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BY / 


Fonnerly an Equity Judge of Tennessee, and Author 
of <*The Coyenanter, the Cayalier, and the Puritan" 

With Portraits and Map 


The Robert Clarke Company, Publishers 
Cincinnati : : : : 1899 


By Oliveb p. Tsmplx. 




lUdpectfiiUy Dedicated 

To THX Pboplb of East Tbmnbsmk, 







The object of the author in preparing this work was 
twofold : First, to rescue from oblivion certain important 
historical facts, fast fading from the memory of men, con- 
nected with the struggle in East Tennessee from 1861 to 
1866 ; secondly, to vindicate the course of the Union peo- 
ple of East Tennessee in separating from their friends and 
kindred in the South, and in adhering to the National 
Government. Their constancy and fortitude, their trials 
and sufferings lor what they deemed right, have no paral- 
lel in the history of this country. To present these in 
connected and permanent form it is believed will add a 
new and missing chapter to the history of the great drama 
known as the Civil War. 

The aim and desire of the author have been to discuss 
and present the facts of the struggle in East Tennessee 
with candor and truthfulness, and yet without offensive- 
ness. The author was Southern by birth, education and 
residence, and bound to the South by the ties of interest, 
association and many long friendships. On the other 
hand, he was drawn toward the North by a strong love of 
the Union, and an ardent de&ire for its preservation. He 
was a slaveholder, and in sympathy with the peculiar in- 
stitutions of the South. Besides, time has softened his 
feelings, and to a certain extent modified his views regard- 
ing some of the questions formerly dividing the two sec- 
tions. These facts, as he conceives, fit him for setting 


viii IrUroducti(m. 

forth dispassionately not only the apparent, but the inner 
motiyes that influenced the Southern people in their moye- 
ment for independence in 1861. In addition, the circum* 
stance that he was an eye-witness of many of the occur- 
rences he describes, and an actiye participant in them, 
giyes him peculiar qualifications for this work. 

The author wishes to return his grateful acknowledg- 
ments to Prof. Edward S. Joynes, LL.D,, of South Caro- 
lina College, and to R. R. Sutherland, D.D., of Enoxyille, 
Tennessee, for assistance and suggestions kindly giyen in 
the preparation of this work. He also extends his thanks 
to Greneral Marcus J. Wright, of the War Records Office, 
Washington, D. C, for important documents. He espe- 
cially expresses his most earnest appreciation of the kind- 
ness of Colonel John B. Brownlow in furnishing him with 
much yaluable information, for many suggestions and nu- 
merous documents, and for the use of files of the Enoxyille 
Whig, edited by his distinguished father. 

ENOxyiLLB, Tbnn., September 9, 1899. 




The first settlement in Tennessee— James Bobertson and John Sevier 
defend Fort Watauga—" The Watanga Association "—A majority 
of settlers Covenanters— Bevolationary War— Settlers ask North 
Carolina to be allowed to share in it and contribute their part of 
expense, 1 



Perilous condition of the patriot cause in North and South Carolina 
in 1780— Comwallis overruns the country— Insolent message of 
Colonel Feiguson— Sevier and Shelby agree to march across the 
mountains— Call on Colonel Campbell to join them— Sycamore 
Shoals— The long march — Campbell selected to command — Find 
Ferguson on King's Mountain— The battle— Effect of victory- 
Eulogy on Sevier, Shelby, William and Arthur Campbell, James 
BobertsonandJohnH^ton— Influence of their descendants, . . 18 



Early inhabitants— Establishment of colleges and grammar schools- 
Cession of territory by North Carolina—'' Territory south-west of 
River Ohio "—Constitutional Convention of 179G— Bill of rights— 
Waste of public lands on railroad corporations— Folly of congress 
as to universal education— Land-owners the main stay of the Re- 
public—The women— Spinning and weaving— The Sabbath in eariy 
times— Political discussions— Religious controversies, . • .41 



East Tennessee described— Mental and moral condition of the valley 
people— They turn to religion— The Sabbath and Sunday Schools- 
People vindicated against misrepresentations— The great moun- 
tain regi<Hi lying beyond the valley, 62 


X Contents. 



SlaveB and the slaye trade — ^Men indifferent at first about the moral 
question involved — Emancipation societies appear in East Tennes- 
see—Names of originators— John Rankin — Dr. David Nelson — 
The first emancipation paper in the United States edited by 
Elihu Embree, at Jonesborough, Tennessee— Benjamin Lundy's 
'* Genius" published at Greeneville — Methodist Church strongly 
anti-slavery — Action of general conference in silencing Francis A. 
Harding and Bishop Andrew because slaveholders — ^The church 
separateft— Important influence of separation of churches in bring- 
ing on secession in the South, 83 



Early Presbyterians were slaveholders — Commence emancipating their 
slaves — ^Legislature forbids emancipation — Introduction of slaves 
into the state for sale forbidden — Effort in Constitutional Conven- 
tion of 1834 to abolish slavery — Constitution closes the door to 
general emancipation — Slavery protected by Constitution of the 
United States and that of the state — No man bold enough to ques- 
tion slavery 106^ 



Excitement in political parties in 1860 — Old parties disintegrating^ 
Whig National Convention— Nominates John Bell— Democratic 
National Convention — Splits on the platform— Reassembles— One 
wing nominates Douglas, the other John C. Breckenridge— Re- 
publican party nominates Abraham Lincoln — Man of destiny — 
Presidential canvass in Tennessee — State votes for Bell— Mr. Lin- 
coln elected— Three members of Buchanan's cabinet active Seces- 
sionists— Major Andereon placed in command at Charleston — South 
Carolina secedes— Mr. Buchanan's vacillation— Fort Sumter— Holt, 
Stanton and Black in the cabinetr-*' Star of the West "—The '* Har- 
riet Lane" — " No power to coerce a sovereign state," • • . 121 



Feeling of apprehension among the people — Friends of disunion demon- 
strative—Public meeting in Knoxville— Adjourned meeting— 

Contents. xi 

People of the country — Resolations tending toward disunion of- 
fered — Discussed by both sides — ^Persons taking part^ Union 
resolutions— Far reaching consequences — Other Union meetings 
follow — ^Distinguished character of men who participated, . . 147 



Gk>yemor Harris calls an extra session of the legislature— His mes- 
sage—Question of convention or no convention submitted — Candi- 
dates nominated on the Union ticket— Canvass described— People 
of Sevier county — Result in Knox county — In Sevier— In Roane — 
In East Tennessee— In the state — Convention defeated— Union 
"majority in the election, 167 



A second effort to detach Tennessee from the Union— Emissaries of 
secession active— Union leaders alert— Local leaders alone won 
the victory of February — Johnson, Maynard and Nelson— Grand 
Union meeting in Xnoxville— Addressed by Baxter, Maynard, 
Nelson, Trigg and Temple — Meeting of April 27th — Splendid can- 
vass—Johnson's and Nelson's joint canvass— Vast crowds— Work 
of the other leaders — Great Union meeting at Strawberry Plains — 
Last speech of the author at Concord — Declares for the Union in 
preference to slavery — Johnson and Nelson at Kingston — Vote in 
East Tennessee — Causes of success of Union leaders, . . . 179 



Governor Harris recommends a Declaration of the Independence of 
Tennessee and an Ordinance of Secession — Disregard of constitu- 
tion of state — An army of 55,000— Military league with Confeder- 
ate States— Revolution— Andrew Jackson, Sam. Houston, John 
Bell, Andrew Johnson and other great men — Address of Union 
leaders of Middle Tennessee— Vote in senate and house on Ordi- 
dinance of Secession — Names given, 205 



Delegates start to gubernatorial convention — Colonel Tumey's regi- 
ment of Confederate soldiers— The first in the state — Union con- 

xii Contents. 

vention— Ex-governor W. B. Campbell nominated— Declined— W. 
H. Polk snbetitated— Wild excitement in Middle Tennessee — 
Ex-governor Brown and Judge Brien— The old Whig and Dem^ 
ocratic leaders of Middle Tennessee — Some one accountable for 
carrying Tennessee into the vortex of revolution — Chiefest among 
them was Governor Harris — Whig leaders described — Mr. Bell sent 
to Enoxville— His speech— Interview with old friends, . • . 224 



Abolition party— Free-soil party— Republican party— '' Garrisonian 
Abolitionisto " — Abolitionists and BecessioniBts working toward the 
same end— Attempt to rescue Anthony Bums— Public meetings in 
Boston advocating violence— Addressed by Wendell Phillips and 
others—" The Boston Anti-man Hunting Society "—Jefferson Ran- 
dolph proposes emancipation in Virginia— Revulsion of feeling in 
slave stateft— Gkurrison's '^ Liberator "—New England Anti-slavery 
Society— George Ticknor Curtis— Luxurious life of slaveholders — 
Difficulties in the way of emancipation— Senator Hammond— Fail- 
ure to execute the fugitive slave law— The ** higher law " doc- 
trine — John Brown— Mr. Webster on the non-execution of the fu- 
gitive slave law— Alexander Stephens to Mr. Lincoln — A portion 
of the people of both sections blamable for the civil war, • • 245 



The right of secession denied— Robert E. Lee's opinion — Mr. Jeffer- 
son's resolution of '98 — ^Nullification the parent of secession — Con- 
troversy between the two sections reviewed — Annexation of Texas 
— ^Acquisition of territory by the Mexican War — Compromise meas- 
ures of 1850— Repeal of Missouri Compromise — ^Extension of 
slavery— Slavery defeated in Kansas— Was there a sufficient jus- 
tification of secession— L^islation of government all favorable to 
slavery — ^New guaranties offered — Amendment to constitution — 
Unpopularity of Abolitionists in 1861, • . . . . . 275 



Causes of secession— Antagonistic opinions between the North and 
the South — Diverse interests — ^Mutual reproaches — ^Two adverse 

Canients. xiii 

Bystems of dTDisation— Mr. Iverson's epeech— Loss of political 
power by the Sonth — ^Incompatibility of the two people--Slayery 
to be the oomer-etone of a new government— Slavery in no danger in 
1861 — Mr. Lincoln's asBorances—Independence out of the Union — 
The blow is stricken— Wisdom of Mr. Lincoln — Does not master 
a man — Ck>nfederacy probably would have succeeded but for the 
firing on Sumter— Certain free states violated the constitution — 
Mr. Stephens denies that these were sufficient alone to justify se- 
cession — People of the North ready for any concession — Character 
of Southern men— Tribute to Southern women, • • . . 907 



Call for a convention of Union men— Meets in Knoxville — Speeches of 
Johnson, Nelson and Arnold — Adjourns to meet again — Meets in 
Greeneville— " Declaration of Grievances " — A majority favors ex- 
treme measures — Published history of convention — Original min- 
utes—Mr. Nelson's resolutions— A substitute offered— Both re- 
ferred back to committee — Substitute adopted— Its purport— Com- 
missioners named to memorialize the legislature — Mr. Nether- 
land's speech — Mr. Nelson— Design and effect of ** substitute " — 
Memorial to legislature— Bemarkable nature of this conven- 
tion 341 



Unpleasant condition of Union people of East Tennessee — Commenced 
going North— W. B. Carter proposes to bum railroad bridges— Be- 
lief of Union people promised— General Robert Anderson as- 
signed to this work. Succeeded by General Sherman — Expedi- 
tion under General Thomas — Carter selects his assistants— The 
bridges burned— Persons engaged— Strawberry Plains bridge — 
Gathering at Watauga and in Sevier county — Folly of burning 
these bridges, 366 



Alarm caused by burning the bridges — A general uprising expected — 
Confederate troops sent to East Tennessee— Union men arrested — 
Benjamin's order — Five bridge burners hanged— Court-martial 

xiv Contents, 

organized — Condemnation of Harrison Self— His daughter appeals 
to Mr. Davis — ^Union men sent to prison at Tuscaloosa— Noble con- 
duct of Confederate officers, 388 



Bitterness in 1861 against Union men — ^Mr. Davis' desire to be just- 
Extracts from letters of Confederate officers— Unionists arrested 
for political opinions— Protests of distinguished Confederate citi- 
zens — Arrests instigated by local leaders— Seizing arms of Union 
men — ^Enforcing conscript law — Flight of Union men — ^Notice of 
pUots, 412 



Mr. Lincoln's desire to relieve East Tennessee — General Buell suc- 
ceeds Sherman— Views of Sherman — Mr. Lincoln and General 
McClellan urge Buell to advance — General Thomas— General Zol- 
licoffer— Battle of Fishing Creek— Way open to East Tennessee- 
General Grant takes Fort Henry — Surrender of Fort Donelson — 
Battle of Shiloh — Confederate lines forced Southw&rd — Way again 
open to East Tennessee — Importance to the Confederacy of hold- 
ing East Tennessee^ 432 



Exiles in Kentucky — ^East Tennessee Union soldiers at Cumberland 
Gap — General E. Kirby Smith and General Bragg start to Ken- 
tucky— Buell follows— Gap abandoned — Long retreat— Suffering 
of army — ^Battle of Perryville — ^East Tennessee soldiers in battle 
of Stone River— With Thomas at Chickamauga— General Bumside 
leads an army to East Tennessee— Knoxville evacuated — Almost 
despair of people — Colonel John W. Foster dashes into the tovm — 
General Bnmside's army enters — ^Tumultuous rejoicing— The old 
flag hoisted— Description of scenes by Colonel Foster — Further 
wanderings of the exiles— Four hundred on board the " Sultana " — 
Vessel blows up — Most of them are lost— Annual re-union of the 
survivors, 464 

Contents. xv 



General Bumside ordered to Chattanooga — Fails to go— Cnmberland 
Gap SnrrenderB — General Longstreet sent to capture Knoxrille — 
Bumside falls back— Fight at Campbell Station— Siege of Knoz- 
ville — Sherman sent by Grant to the relief of Bumside— Assault 
on Fort Sanders— Longstreet repulsed— Mr. Lincoln proclaims a 
general thanksgiving for that event— Longstreet retires— Scarcity 
of provisions— ThankQgiving dinners— Loyal people of the French 
Broad saved Knoxville — Colonel Doughty— Thrilling incidents 
connected with the assassination of Mr. Lincoln— Sad fate of Col- 
onel Bathbone and Clara W. Harris, 486 



Knozville never completely invested— Longstreet misled by inaccurate 
maps— The reason Fort Sanders was selected for the assault— Sher- 
man returns— Gordon Granger's corps remains— Longstreet halts 
east of Knoxville — Remains until springs— People driven to Knoz- 
ville to avoid starvation— General Gimnt visits En9zviUe — Cam- 
paign contemplated up the French Broad or the Valley of East 
Tennessee — Interesting incidents connected with siege of Knoz- 
ville — ^Mary Love and John T. Brown, 505 



Good effects of the civil war— A practical education— The soldiers 
learned obedience, subordioation, faithfulness— East Tennessee 
soldiers returned home better men — Soon filling all the important 
county offices— Union and Confederate soldiers live together in 
peace— Soldiers of East Tennessee described — ^Honesty of motives 
of Union men in joining Federal Army — No eziles or refugees in 
the Korth, 525 



Were supporters of General Jackson— White's supporters become 
Whigs— Names of distinguished Whig leaders in East Tennessee — 
Names of Democratic leaders — The Whig party one of wealth and 
education — What Mrs. Jefferson Davis said of Mississippi— Changes 

xvi Contents. 

in the two political parties— A majority of Whigs were Union 
men— Three-fifths of Democrats vote for the Union— Overwhelm- 
ing weight of talent on the Union side— Two parties finally ahout 
equal, 535 



Under certain conditions, better for the people of East Tennessee to 
have gone with the Soath — ^The reasons for their coarse — Princi- 
ples involved— No sufficient cause for secession — Views of Whig 
party — ^Easy to be a Union man in the North — ^Danger and odium 
in the South— People opposed to secession — ^Love of country-^ 
Hated changes— Drew their inspiration from Clay and Jackson — 
Influence of local leaders— Common people loyal, • • • • 544 


Declaration of grievances adopted at the Greeneville Convention, . 565 
List of delegates to Greeneville Convention, 572 




The first settlement of Tennessee— James Robertson and John Sevier— They 
defend the Wataaga Fort against attack of Indians— Uncertainty as to 
state lines— No state protection for first settlers— They protect them- 
selves—They form a government, " The Watanga Association "—Names 
of first rulers— Order is preserved, persons and property protected — A 
majority of settlers (Covenanters— Their character and habits— Their 
education and intelligence — Revolutionary War^-Settlers ask North 
Carolina to be allowed to share in it, and contribute their part of the 
expense— Their record in fighting for independence. 

In the wonderful group of lofty mountains — fifty or sixty 
in number and all five or six thousand feet in height — ^in 
Western North Carolina and Eastern Tennessee, which 
render that region one of the most picturesque on the con- 
tinent, near the Tennessee line, stands Grandfather Mount- 
ain, in lofty grandeur and venerable majesty. Just south 
of it, and by its side, in graceful modesty rises Grand- 
mother Mountain, its queenly consort. At the base of the 
former, on an elevated plateau, within a radius of less than 
a quarter of a mile in diameter, three streams of water 
burst from the ground, all fresh and sparkling : the first, 
the Linnville, the source of the Catawba River, flowing 
southwardly into the Atlantic; the second the source of 
the New River, flomng northwardly into the Ohio; and 
the third the source of the Watauga, flowing westwardly 
into the Holston and the Tennessee. Certainly few spots 
combine so much matter of interest to the student of 

^ In 1S92 the author visited this spot, and drank out of one or more of 
these springs. (1) 

2 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

The Watauga has become historic, because on its green 
banks the first settlement in Tennessee was planted. As 
the riyer emerges from the mountains, in a clear, spark- 
ling, silvery current, flowing over beds of white shell, 
sand, and pebbles, and rapidly gliding onward through a 
charming valley, no more beautiful stream can be found 
in the land. In 1770, the first pioneers began to gather on 
its banks at the point where it debouches from the moun- 
tains. The spot is enchantingly lovely. There must have 
been poetic eyes among the stem, brave settlers, which led 
them to select for their homes such a bewitching scene of 
beauty and grandeur. On this stream was the cradle of 
Western civilization. 

The valley for some miles swells out into a magnificent, 
gently undulating plain, of surpassing fertility. Oflf south- 
wardly, five or six miles, though seemingly within two or 
three miles, so transparent is the pure atmosphere, rise up 
and spread out in graceful outlines the great blue moim- 
tains, solemn and still in their loneliness, forming as lovely 
and as restful a sight as the eye ever looked upon. Surely 
hmnan vision never beheld a more beautiful spot. Into 
this romantic region, in 1760, came the renowned Daniel 
Boone to hunt.* 

Soon there came to the settlement two men who were 
destined to play leading parts in the history of Tennessee. 
They were just the men who were needed. These were 
James Robertson, who came from North Carolina, and 
John Sevier, who came from Virginia. Robertson was a 
Covenanter in blood, while Sevier was a Huguenot. Rob- 
ertson was a plain, strong man, wise in council, far-seeing 

' On a beech tree in Washington County, not many miles west of the 
Watauga, Boone carved the following words: 

D. Boon 
CitmD A. BAR On 

in T A E 



Th^ Wcdauga Association. 3 

in wisdom, powerful in action, and Bkillful in execution. 
He contributed by his good judgment and happy discre- 
tion largely to the safety and the success of the early set- 
tlements in East Tennessee. He finally became the founder 
and the leader of the settlements of Middle Tennessee. In 
this capacity he manifested a high order of statesmanship 
and patriotism. His memory is justly cherished with 
pride by every Tennessean, as one of its distinguished 

Sevier had been a captain in the army of the royal gov- 
ernor, Dunmore, of Virginia, and perhaps a courtier in 
his palace. He was a favorite of that functionary and en- 
joyed his smiles.* In some respects he was the very oppo- 
site of Robertson. He was tall, graceful, athletic, and 
handsome. French sprightliness, vivacity, and kindliness 
bubbled up in him like a mountain spring. Men at once 
recognized in him a friend and a leader. In sagacity and 
ability he was no ordinary man. No inferior or common 
man could have run such an unbroken career of success, 
in high and honorable positions in perilous times, for 
forty-three years, with such distinguished enemies ar- 
rayed against him a part of the time as Andrew Jackson, 
Governor Archibald Roane, John Tipton, and others, with- 
out being overthrown and destroyed. And yet, to the last, 
he was the undoubted leader and favorite of the people. 
Jn a large measure, the remarkable ascendency which 
Sevier held over the minds of the early inhabitants of 
Tennessee was due to his natural genius for war, and his 
willingness to fight. But there was more in him than 
these elements of strength. He possessed as well the 
talent for governing — ^high administrative ability. Above 
all, he had a heart in sympathy with universal humanity. 

It was well that two such men as Robertson and Sevier 
came early to the Watauga settlement. Soon the coolness 
and the judgment of the former, and the daring and military 

^ Address of Hon. "W, A. Henderson, on John Sevier. 

4 East Tennessee and (he Civil War. 

ability of the latter, were needed. The great tribe of 
Cherokee Indians, whose home was but a hundred miles 
Southward, had from the first fixed their eyes, glaring 
with rage and murder, on the infant settlement. It was 
marked for destruction. When the Revolution burst upon 
the country, urged on by British agents, and stimulated 
by British gold, the moment for putting into execution 
their long-concealed purpose of destroying the settlements 
on the Watauga, the Holston, and the Nolichucky, had 
come. Seven hundred warriors, as silently and as stealth- 
ily as a panther, crept through the dark forest on their mur- 
derous mission toward the settlements. Fortunately the 
good Indian woman, Nancy Ward, then and ever afterward 
the friend of the whites, had notified the settlers of the 
approaching danger. Being thus warned and prepared, 
wherever the Indians appeared they were defeated. A 
part of their warriors, under Old Abraham, one of their 
wisest and most cunning chiefs, led their force against the 
little rude fort on the Watauga, where the settlers, men, 
women and children, to the niunber of two hundred, had 
taken refuge. For six days the fort was besieged. Most 
fortunately Captain James Robertson and Lieutenant John 
Sevier were in command, and successfully defeated every 
eflfort of the wily enemy for the destruction of the settlers. 
After six days, the savages, having been defeated every- 
where else, silently and sullenly withdrew, after losing a 
number of their warriors. This was but the beginning of 
the war with the Cherokees, which continued for nearly 
twenty years, in which also the powerful Creek nation, the 
fiercest of all the Southern tribes, sometimes took a part. 

Before proceeding in chronological order I return to a 
period anterior to the attack on the fort at Watauga. The 
early settlers, both on the Watauga and on the Holston, 
supposed they were within the limits of Virginia. But 
when the line between the two colonies of Carolina and 
Virginia was nm, it was discovered that those on both 
sides of the Holston were under the jurisdiction of North 

The Watauga Association, 5 

Carolina. A purchase from the Indians, for the benefit of 
Virginia, of the territory where the settlements existed, 
still further complicated matters, and left the question an 
unsettled one as to which state the settlers owed allegi- 
ance. No one could tell of which state he was a citizen. 
Neither state gave the settlers protection against the In- 
dians, nor the benefit of its laws and civil jurisdiction. 
No courts were established for the security of their lives 
and property, or for the peace and repose of society. 

North Carolina was reluctant and indeed unwilling to 
extend its laws over a distant people, surrounded by In- 
dians, with whom conflicts were almost certain, and 
where the expense of maintaining an army and a civil 
government would outweigh every advantage that could 
accrue to her. On the other hand, Virginia was perhaps 
not certain of the validity of her title to the territory. So 
the settlers received no protection from either colony. 

In this emergency the Anglo-Saxon instinct for self- 
government, perhaps I should say, rather, Covenanter 
love of liberty, order, law and independence, solved the 
difficulty. A majority of the settlers, who were at this 
time south of the Holston, were the Covenanters who 
had lately fled from persecutions in North Carolina. They 
were naturally unwilling to fall again under the jurisdic- 
tion of that colony. It is easy to believe that they readily 
acquiesced in the claims of Virginia, on whose soil they at 
first thought they had settled. 

But whatever may have been their opinions, or their 
wishes, it was a * 'condition" and not a * 'theory" that con- 
fronted them. They were without law, without govern- 
ment. The settlers of the Holston, the Watauga and of 
Carter's Valley, therefore, in 1772, assembled at Watauga, 
and deliberately proceeded to frame and organize a gov- 
ernment for themselves. They entered into a written 
agreement, known since as the * 'Watauga Association." 
A written constitution was formed and adopted, which un- 
fortunately has been lost. A committee of thirteen was 

6 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

elected as a general legislative body. Out of these five 
commissioners were selected by the thirteen, in whom was 
lodged the executive and judicial power. These, in turn, 
elected one of their body as chairman, who presided in 
their courts. They had a clerk, a sheriff and an attorney. 
Courts were held at stated periods. The laws of Virginia 
were adopted for their guidance as far as they were ap- 
plicable. John Carter was selected as chairman and John 
Sevier as clerk of the court. 

The names of the thirteen who composed the legislative 
body are worthy of being preserved. They were : John 
Carter, Charles Bobertson, James Robertson, Jack Isbel, 
John Sevier, James Smith, Jacob Brown, William Bean, 
John Jones, George Russell, Jacob Wamack, Robert Lucas 
and William Tatham. Of these John Carter, Charles 
Robertson, John Sevier, James Robertson and Jack Isbel 
were selected to administer the laws and manage the 
affairs of the settlements* Their decisions were final. 
No appeal lay to any other tribunal. The decisions were 
made with promptitude and executed with vigor. These 
men must have been inspired with a high sense of justice, 
for no account, no tradition even, has come down to later 
generations of any injustice or oppression on the part of 
these executive— judicial— officers. The high and exalted 
reputation which at least three of them, John Carter, 
John Sevier and James Robertson, bore for uprightness 
and justice throughout their long lives, in honorable and 
responsible positions, seems to forbid any suspicion of 
official injustice on their part. Indeed, we may assume 
that the remarkable success of this unique little republic 
was due largely to the wisdom and justice of its executive 

Here was an anomaly : a government under the direction 
of five men, exercising for six years all the rights of sov- 
ereignty, such as making treaties, purchasing lands from 
the Indians, confiscating proi>erty, and inflicting capital 
punishment for crimes, existing on the very outer frontier 

The Watauga Association. 7 

of civilization, where there naturally came, as is always 
the case, many desperate, lawless characters ready to defy 
all authority, and yet, so wise and strong was the execu- 
tive administration, that order was preserved, property 
protected, life made secure, and not a complaint of an in- 
justice done to any one. But let it be borne in mind that 
the ruling class, the back-bone of these little self-governing 
communities, were strong, earnest, educated, law-loving 
men, mostly of the Covenanter race, who had not braved 
the dangers and the hardships of the wilderness in a spirit 
of reckless adventure, but had come to build up for them- 
selves and their posterity a free state and a Christian 
civilization. These austere, determined men would tolerate 
no lawlessness in their midst. They were an intelligent, a 
law-abiding and a God-fearing people. This was the 
I>ower back of the executive administration which gave it 
force, steadiness, and success. 

Roosevelt says of these pioneers: ^'They formed a 
written constitution, the first ever adopted west of the 
mountains, or by a community composed of Americanrbom 
freemen.^ ^^ Again he says : ** They were the first men of 
American birth to establish a free and independent com- 
munity on the Continent."' 

Ramsey says that this was '* the first written compact 
for civil government anywhere west of the AUeghanies."' 
It was not, as is sometimes assumed, the first written con- 
stitution in the colonies. As early as 1637, the three 
towns of Hartford, Windsor and Wethersford, in Connecti- 
cut, formed a written compact and constitution, republican 
in form, under which that colony and state lived for nearly 
two centuries. *' This was the first written constitution in 
America, if not in the world." * 

1 Roosevelt's " Winning of the West," YoL I, pp. 168, 164, and notes on 
pp. 162 and 163. 
« Id., p. 183. 

' Bamaey's ''Annals of Tenneoee/' p. 107. 
♦ Bryant's " Popular History of the United States," Vol. 11, p. 21. 

8 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

At first only the three original settlements lived under 
the articles of the Watauga Association. But, in 1775, 
the Nolichucky settlement joined it, and became identified 
with it. 

It is sometimes supposed, and even asserted, that these 
early settlers on the Hols ton, the Watauga, and the Noli- 
chucky were a rough, uneducated set of men. Nothing 
could be further from the truth. For the most part, they 
belonged to the Covenanter race, commonly called the 
Scotch-Irish. The Covenanters were the best educated 
people in the colonies, possibly excepting the early Puri- 
tans, and it is by no means clear that this exception ought 
to be made. Douglas Campbell says of the Covenanters 
who settled in the colonies before the Revolution : 

** In the first place, it should be noticed that they were 
not socially poor peasants, such as Ireland has contributed 
to America in later days. Among them were wealthy yeo- 
men, and in their ranks were the most intelligent of Irish 
manufacturers. Nor were they children of ignorance. 
Although their schools had been closed by law (in Ire- 
land), they had all found means of private instruction 
in the common branches ; while those desirous of a higher 
education — and they were numerous — ^had made their way 
to the Presbyterian Universities of Edinburgh and Glas- 
gow. When they came to America, these Scotch-Irishmen 
were not only among the most industrious and virtuous, 
but they were, like the early settlers of New England 
the best educated, of the English speaking race."^ 

Again the same author says that * * for nearly a century 
before the Revolution, they'* (the Scotch-Irish or the 
Covenanters) ^' conducted most of the classical schools 
south of the province of New York."' 

Theodore Roosevelt says of these early settlers : **As in 
Western Virginia, the first settlers came, for the most part, 

1 " The Puritan in Holland, England and America," Vol. II, p. 479. 
« Id., p. 486. 

The Watauga Association. 9 

from Pennsylvania ; so, in turn, in what was then Western 
North Carolina and is now Eastern Tennessee, the first 
settlers came mainly from Virginia, and^ indeed, in great 
part, from this same Pennsylvania stock. . . . They 
were a sturdy race, enterprising and intelligent." * Again 
he says : * * But the bulk of the settlers were men of ster- 
ling worth, fit to be the pioneer fathers of a mighty and 
a beautiful state." * 

The pioneers above spoken of, as being of **the same 
Pennsylvania stock," that had settled in Virginia, were a 
part of that great Covenanter race which had emigrated 
from Ireland in such numbers between the years 1728 and 
1775, and had landed in Philadelphia. Many of them 
passed over into Virginia, and found homes in the beau- 
tiful valley of Virginia, or the Shenandoah. Finally, many 
of them crossed the Blue Ridge and the AUeghanies, and 
settled on the Holston and the Watauga. These formed 
a part, possibly the larger part, of the first settlers of 

Fortunately we are not left in doubt either as to who 
they were, or as to their moral standing and intellectual 
attainments. Roosevelt has resurrected a manuscript left 
by the Hon. David Campbell, a son of one of the Holston 
pioneers, giving an account of the early settlers on the 
Holston, in South-west Virginia. The settlers on the 
Lower Holston, in Tennessee, were but an overflow of the 
same race of men from the Upper Holston, only a few 
nules away. Campbell in his manuscript says : 

**The first settlers on the Holston river were a remarka- 
ble race of men for their intelligence, enterprise and hardy 
adventure. The greater portion of them had emigrated 
from the counties of Botetourt, Augusta and Frederick and 
others (counties) along the same valley, and from the 
upper counties of Maryland and Pennsylvania; were 

» " The Winning of the West," Vol. I, p. 162. 

* Id., p. 178. Qaoted from a MSS. left by David Campbell, a son of one 
of the early settlers on the Holston in Virginia. 

10 East Tennessee and the Civil War, 

mostly descendants of Irish stock (Scotch-Irish), and 
generally where they had religious opinions were Presby- 
terians. A very large proportion were religious, and many 
were members of the church." * 

Among these early Covenanter settlers, in South-west 
Virginia, on the very borders of Tennessee, were the Pres- 
tons, the Campbells, the McDowells, the Robertsons and 
other historic families, who became distinguished in the his- 
tory of that state and of the nation. The same race of men 
followed the Holston a few miles lower down, and came 
into Tennessee. They were all of the same type. 

**The first settlers on the Watauga," says Roosevelt, 
* 'included both Virginians and Carolinians. But many 
of these Carolina hill people were, like Boone and James 
Robertson, members of families who had drifted down 
from the North. The position of the Presbyterian churches 
in all the western hill country shows the origin of thai par- 
tion of the people who ga/ve ihe tone to the rest.^^ ' 

This statement is not as definite as it should be. At the 
same time that the Covenanters, many of whom finally 
reached the Holston and the Watauga country, were passing 
over from Pennsylvania into Virginia, and passing westward 
up the valleys of that state, many others of the same race 
were passing on through Virginia into North and South Car- 
olina, and settling on the upper waters of the Catawba, the 
Broad, the Yadkin, the Saluda and other streams, which 
rise on the eastern side of the Blue Ridge. In the mean- 
time, other Covenanters from Ireland and Scotland were 
landing in Charleston and Wilmington, and were moving 
westward and northward (the coast region being occupied 
by older settlers, mostly English) into the interior, and 
finding homes on the waters of those same upper streams. 
And thus the mountain country, or, as Mr. Roosevelt calls 
it, **the hill country," of North and South Carolina, was 

> "Winning of the West," Vol. I, p. 167. 
« Id., Vol. I, p. 163, note 1. 

The Watauga Association. 11 

filled with a brave, adventurous Covenanter population, 
who were all Presbyterians in religion, and all lovers of 
liberty. Some, perhaps, of these liberty-loving people had 
rebelled, in 1771, against the royal authority in North 
Carolina, and, after their defeat in the battle of the Great 
Alamance, fled to the Watauga settlement. 

Some of these men who had taken part in this rebel- 
lion — possibly a good many — according to Mr. Bancroft, 
crossed the mountains, and made their homes on the Wa- 
tauga, where the long arm of oppression could not reach 
them. These were among the first settlers. And from 
time to time larger numbers continued to come, as the fame 
of the beauty of the newly-discovered country west of the 
great mountains was carried back to their kindred in North 
Carolina. So, it is true, that the first settlers in Tennessee 
were, in a sense, ''both Virginians and Carolinians." But 
with rare exceptions they were not of the English race 
which first mainly settled Virginia and Carolina, but 
largely, and indeed nearly exclusively, of the Covenanter 
stock, with one or more families of Huguenots and Welsh- 
men. The same race of men also first settled Kentucky 
and Middle Tennessee. In Kentucky they came from the 
Covenanter settlements of West and South-west Virginia, 
and from the great hive of Covenanters in Western Penn- 

A braver, purer or better class of men than those early 
settlers in Kentucky and Tennessee never founded a state. 
No state in the Union was settled by men superior to them. 
Nearly all those of the Covenanter stock (and we have 
seen that most of them were of this stock) were well edu- 
cated, and some of them highly so.^ 

On this point, evidence of the most emphatic character 
is furnished by Mr. Roosevelt. He says : 

''In examining numerous original drafts of petitions 

^ As to the characteristics of these people, refer to ** The Oovenanter, 
the Cayalier and the Puritan," by the author, p. 150. 

12 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

and the like, signed by hundreds of the original settlers 
of Tennessee and Kentucky, I have been struck by the 
small proportion — ^not much over three or four per cent 
at the outside— of men who made their mark instead of 

This statement is partially confirmed by the petition of 
the commissioners, or officers, and of a part of the citizens 
of the Watauga Association, sent in 1776 to the legislature 
of North Carolina. Out of one hundred and four persons, 
all but two seem to have signed their own names, leaving 
a fraction less than two per cent who made their mark. 
Additional confirmation of the fact that the Covenanters 
who settled the colonies were an educated people may be 
found in the Historical Society of New Hampshire. A 
petition to the governor, by certain Covenanters who 
wished permission to settle on certain lands, is preserved 
in said society, which was signed by three hundred 
and nineteen persons, and all but thirteen signed the 
document in their own proper hand. Here again there 
was only four per cent of the persons who made their 

The government of the Watauga Association was re- 
markable in several respects. The deep-rooted conviction 
in the minds of the pioneers, at so early a day after their 
arrival in the wilderness, of the necessity of law, order and 
of government, clearly shows not only a keen moral sense, 
but the high and refined state of their civilization. Had 
their state of social, moral and mental development, 
bordered on, or been but slightly above, half savagery, or 
even the condition of an ignorant and a rude people, they 
would have preferred to let society run riot in its wanton* 
ness and disorder. On the contrary, they cheerfully, and 
by the free consent of every member of the community, 
imposed restraints upon themselves, and limitations on 

» " Winning of the West," Vol. I, p. 180, note. 

* Addreas of A. L. Perry, before Scotch-Irish Crongreas, " Proceedings,** 
etc.. Vol. II, p. 187. 

The Watauga AssoeioMon. 13 

their own conduct, and agreed to yield to those they chose 
as the representatives of the authority of the community^ 
the obedience due to the majesty of law. 

But to my mind the most remarkable thing about this 
little republic was its comparatively long existence in 
peace and tranquillity, and its freedom from discontent, 
disorder or rebellion. The government was in the hands 
of strong and pure men. But that was not sufficient. Its 
strength and its success lay in the intelligence and in the 
high moral and religious sense and conviction of that 
stem, brave, determined race who constituted a majority 
of the first popxilation. Here was the source of their 
security and of their peace, and of that obedience and 
tranquillity which prevailed throughout the settlements. 

It is sometimes said that lawless, desperate characters 
constituted a large part of the early population. This is 
a great mistake. Desperate men, such as horse-thieves, 
and sometimes murderers, did come to the settlements ; 
and after the commencement of the Revolution, tories 
also, who had fled from Virginia or the Carolinas, some- 
times sought refuge in these remote regions ; but in every 
such case, the strong, firm arm of authority reduced 
such persons to speedy obedience, or drove them from the 

These pioneers were not hunters. More than two 
centuries before they had passed the hunter stage in de- 
velopment. They were husbandmen, artisans, teachers, 
preachers, earnest, serious, brave men, for whom life had 
an awful significance and mission. Solemn and great 
duties were to be done. They were to plant the church, 
build school-houses, fell the forest, and spread the blessings 
of a benign civilization around them, for themselves and for 
their children. These sturdy, austere men had neither the 
time nor the inclination to indulge in the light-hearted 
amusements, sports and festivities then so universal among 
the gay and frolicsome Cavaliers of Old Virginia. No, life 
was too serious, too full of dangers, hardships and solemn 

14 East Tennessee and the CivU War. 

duties for fiddling and dancing, for feasting and visiting, 
or for following a pack of hounds in the wild chase oyer 
the hills and the plains. With them 

** life was real, life was eamest" 

It may be well to add a few more words as to who these 
people were. Of what race and of what religion were 
they? I have assumed that a majority of them were of 
the Covenanter race and religion. This, I believe, is the 
opinion expressed by all writers who have given the ques- 
tion any investigation, such as Roosevelt, David Campbell 
and Douglas Campbell. But I wish to test this question 
in a diflferent way. If they were not Covenanters and Pres- 
byterians, who were they ? They were certainly not Puritans 
nor the Dutch of New York, nor Swedes. They were not 
Quakers nor Germans, though there may have been present 
a few of these, but we have no account of such a fact. 
Aside from two noted families — ^the Seviers and the 
Shelbys — ^we have no record of any Huguenots nor Welsh- 
men among the early settlers. Carter was the name of an 
old Virginia family, and very likely was of Cavalier origin. 
But excepting this family there is no reason for supposing 
that there was another Cavalier in the settlements. There 
may have been a few persons of English blood from Vir- 
ginia, but they were not Cavaliers. The Cavaliers were 
quite satisfied with their paradise in the old colony, and 
had no motive to leave it. They were generally attached 
to the established Church, and yet there was not a con- 
gregation of that faith established in all Upper East 
Tennessee for more than sixty years after these early 

There were possibly a few Baptists among the settlers, 
but if so, they were obscure and few in number. It is 
barely possible that in the early days of the Watauga As- 
sociation there may have been a Methodist here and there 
among the settlers, but this is not at all probable, since at as 
late a period as 1784, there were only seventy of that de- 
nomination in all the region including Upper East Tennessee 

The Watauga Association. 16 

and South-western Virginia.' So, it is clear that the early- 
settlers were not Quakers, were not Episcopalians, not 
Baptists, nor Methodists, nor of any of the other then exist- 
ing denominations. A majority was unquestionably of the 
Covenanter race and of the Presbyterian religion. Previous 
to that time, or at a period not greatly anterior to it, the 
terms **Covenanter" and * 'Presbyterian" were identical in 
meaning. But about the time indicated, when the Pres- 
byterians began to intermarry with other sects, the term 
"Covenanter'' ceased to indicate certainly, a sect, and 
gradually came to signify only a race. That is its mean- 
ing to-day, and in this sense I use the word.* 

There is another point in connection with the govern- 
ment of the Watauga Association worthy of observation. 
It was absolutely free, or democratic, both in theory and 
in practice. There existed no caste, no conventional dis- 
tinctions. All citizens were equal before the law. Un- 
like Massachusetts and Virginia, there were no religious 
tests. No man was forced under heavy penalties to pay 
for the support of a church whose doctrines and i)olity he 
did not approve. No preference was given to one church 
over another. No one was compelled to attend church under 
the penalty of banishment. In a word, there was a free 
state, a free religion, and perfect freedom of conscience. 

* Dr. J, B. McFerrin's " History of Methodism in Tennessee," Vol. 1. 

* I nse the term ''Covenanter" iDstead of '* Scotch-Irish," because it is 
more comprehensive as well as more definite in its signification. By it I 
mean that great body of Scottish people, who in the sixteenth century, 
signed or approved the Great Covenant of religious liberty, and all their 
descendants wherever found, especially those in this country. For a long 
time the term was merely synonymous with that of Presbyterian, since the 
early Covenanters were of that faith. But in the course of time, by 
changes in faith, and by intermarriages with other races and sects, it 
ceased to indicate with certainty a sect, and came to mean a race or a 
people. In this sense I use the word Covenanter. It is used as a racial 
or generic term, and is intended to include all persons of Scotch Covenanter 
blood, whether pure or mixed, and whatever the form of iaiih they may 
have adopted. I thus avoid the solecism of using the words Scotch-Irish, 
which mean Scotch-Scotch, or Irish-Irish, as men prefer to interpret them. 
See " The Covenanter, the Cavalier and the Puritan," pp. 230, 231. 

16 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

And thus these Covenanters, with the add of the Hu- 
guenot Sevier, set the example of erecting a republican 
government, where all men and all religions were on a 
perfect equality before the law. 

There is another singular fact connected with the history 
of this little republic. It will be remembered that some 
of the first settlers were the hero patriots who had resisted 
royal authority at the battle of the Great Alamance, in 
1771, and who, being persecuted and outlawed after their 
defeat, fled to the wilderness beyond the mountains and 
settled on the Watauga. These men came to the wilder- 
ness bringing with them no tender affection for the old 
mother colony, but bearing in their hearts the memory of 
many bitter wrongs. Besides, North Carolina had treated 
the Watauga people with the coldest neglect. They were 
literally cast off into the wilderness. They had no law, no 
protection, no government of any kind, except that created 
by their own courage and their own remarkable capacity 
for self-preservation and government. It need excite no 
surprise, then, that these men had no love for their un- 
natural mother, and preferred living in Virginia. 

When the Revolutionary War came on, these settlers 
were remote from danger, except from the Indians.* No 
hostile army probably woidd ever invade their secluded 
retreats. And yet these patriotic men, with a nobility and 
loftiness of spirit rarely found among any people, hastened 
to tender their assistance and their means to the parent 
state in behalf of the common cause. 

In a memorial addressed **To the Honorable, the Pro- 
vincial Council of North Carolina," in 1776, signed by all 
the members of the legislative and executive committee of 
the Watauga Association, and by about ninety-one other 
settlers, they say among other things: **This committee 
(willing to become a party in the present unhappy con- 
test) resolved (which is now on our records) to adhere 
strictly to the rules and orders of the Continental Congress, 
and in open committee acknowledged themselves indebted 

The Watauga Association. 17 

to the united colonies ^ their full proportion of the continental ex* 

In the conclusion of this remarkable document, these men 
say : . . . **We pray your mature and deliberate con- 
sideration in our behalf, that you may annex us to your 
province (whether as county, district or other division) in 
such manner as to enable us to share in the glorious cause of 
liberty . . . and that nothing will be lacking or any 
thing neglected that may add weight (in the civil and 
military establishments) to the glorious cause in which we 
are now struggling/' . . . Noble words I 

When all the circumstances surrounding these Watauga 
I>eople are considered, it may be safely affirmed that, in all 
the records of the Revolution, no higher example of pure, 
unselfish patriotism can be found than that manifested by 
by these noble pioneers of Tennessee. They had been 
neglected and cast off by their mother, but when dangers 
threatened and encompassed her like filial children they 
hastened to her defense. They begged to be reannexed to 
the mother state in order that they might ''share in the 
glorious cause of liberty." The part they bore in the 
Revolution was too important to be overlooked. Passing 
over- the heroic part they took in the decisive victory of 
Musgrove Mill, their capture of a strongly fortified fort on 
the Pacelot River, and their share in the splendid battle of 
Guilford Court House, in all of which these men took a 
leading part, under either Colonel John Sevier, or Colonel 
Isaac Shelby, or Major Charles Robertson, their share in 
the brilliant victory in the battle of Kings Mountain, from 
its importance and decisive character, demands a fuller 
notice, and will be reserved for another chapter. 

18 East Termessee and the Civil War. 



Perilous condition of the patriot cause in North and South Carolina in. 
1780— Comwallis overrunning the country— Insolent message of Colo- 
nel Ferguson to the " over-mountain men " — Sevier and Shelby meet 
to consult— Agree to march with their militia across the mountain to 
destroy Ferguson— The call on Colonel Campbell to join them— He does 
so— Sycamore Shoals the rendezvous — Little army assembles there — 
Incidents before the march— Army sets out on the expedition across the 
mountains— The long march — Joined on the way by other commands 
under McDowell, Cleveland, Williams, and others— Campbell selected 
to command under direction of other officers- Twelve days on the 
march — Distance marched two hundred and twenty miles — Find Fer- 
guson posted on King's Mountain— Arrangements for attack— Th& 
battle described — ^Ferguson killed — His army destroyed — ^Effect of the 
victory on the patriot cause— Character of men engaged in the expedi- 
tion—Eulogy on Sevier, Shelby, William and Arthur Campbell, Jamea 
Robertson and John Tipton — Influence of their descendants— llie true- 
name of John Tipton. 

But little has been knovni until recent years of the bat- 
tle of King's Mountain outside of the region which fur- 
nished the brave men who participated in it. Historians 
have passed it over with a few brief words, as if it were 
too insignificant for the pages of dignified history. And 
yet it was one of the most important as well as one of the 
most thrilling and heroic deeds of the Revolution, 

In discussing this battle it must be kept in mind that 
the number of persons capable of bearing arms, in all of 
the settlements west of the North Carolina mountains, in 
1780, was less than one thousand men. Colonel John 
Sevier at that time commanded the militia of Washington 
county, and Colonel Isaac Shelby that of Sullivan county. 
Both were brave and determined men, and both had had some 
experience in war previous to the Revolution. Shelby had 
been with his father. Captain Evan Shelby, in the hard* 

BatUe of King^s Mowntain. 19 

fought battle of Point Pleasant, or the Kenhawa, and aft- 
erward had been with Boone in Kentucky. Sevier had 
been inured to arms from the days of his young manhood, 
when he was a captain in the royal army in Virginia. He 
had had much experience on the frontier in fighting the 
Indians, from the day he and Robertson defended the fort at 
Watauga against the attack of the wily old Indian chief, 
Abraham. As we shall see, Sevier afterward became the 
first Governor of Tennessee, as Shelby became the first of 

The expedition to King's Mountain was unlike any other 
important military movement of the Revolution. It had 
its origin and its execution entirely with volunteers. It was 
ordered by no state or continental authority. It grew out 
of the voluntary uprising of a patriotic people in defense 
of their liberties. Toward the autumn of 1780, all of 
South Carolina and (xeorgia, and a part of North Carolina, 
lay prostrate at the feet of the British army. Comwallis 
was on his triumphant march through the latter state 
towards Virginia, in eager expectation of soon reducing 
that state to submission. In all these three Southern 
states, there was not, at any one point, a patriot force suffi- 
cient to withstand the veterans of Comwallis for one hour. 
Colonel Tarlton and Colonel Ferguson, the most daring and 
skillful partisan officers of the British army, at the head 
of their justly dreaded commands, were ranging the 
country on either flank of the main army, arousing and 
enrolling the tories, and overawing the patriots. The lit- 
tle bands of patriot soldiers which still held together were 
fleeing for safety to the recesses of the western mountains, 
and in one or two instances beyond them. In his victorious 
career Colonel Ferguson had advanced westwardly into the 
very border of the great mountain range which separated 
the older settlements from the new on the distant Watauga. 
It was indeed a dark hour for the patriot cause. The 
Southern States seemed to be irretrievably lost. 

Early in September, remembering how the mountain 

20 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

men under Shelby, Sevier and Major Robertson had 
snatched yictorj from the British army on several occasions 
during the last previous months. Colonel Ferguson re- 
leased a prisoner, named Samuel Phillips, and in his 
haughty arrogance, sent him with a verbal message to 
the officers commanding beyond the mountains, saying: 
''that if they did not desist from their opposition to the 
British army, he would march his army over the moun- 
tains, hang their leaders, and lay their country waste with 
fire and sword."* 

The brave, proud spirited men on the Holston, the 
Watauga and the Nolichucky, to whom this insolent mes- 
sage was sent, were quick to resent the insult, and accept 
the haughty challenge it contained. Colonel Isaac Shelby, 
to whom the message was delivered, road at once forty 
miles to consult Colonel Sevier, and to concert measures 
for their protection. After many long hours — some au- 
thorities say two days— of anxious consultation, they de- 
cided on the bold and daring plan of summoning their fol- 
lowers, marching at once across the mountains, and sur- 
prising and destroying their haughty enemy. When all 
the facts are taken into account, perhaps no bolder or more 
audacious enterprise was ever conceived or undertaken. 
But it was in perfect harmony with the nature and spirit 
of these daring men. It was agreed that Colonel William 
Campbell, commanding in Washington county, Virginia, 
adjoining Sullivan county, should be invited to join the 
expedition with his force. He at first declined to do so, 
because he thought he could do more e£fective service on 
the southern border of his own state in resisting the ad- 
vance of Cornwallis. But on a second request from 
Colonel Shelby he changed his mind. He accordingly 
called out two hundred men, and promptly marched to the 
place of rendezvous, at Sycamore Shoals, on the Watauga. 
Colonels Shelby and Sevier each called out two hundred 

^ " King's Mountain and its Heroes," by Lyman Draper, p. 169. 


Foundrr and Fint Pmulntl of n'atfiitiglvii CulUge, 17S(i 

Battle of King^s Mountain. 21 

and forty men from their respective commands. Not 
another man could be spared. They were needed at home 
to defend the settlements against the hostile Cherokees, 
who were ever ready to fall upon them. The money neces- 
sary for the expedition was raised on the personal credit 
of Shelby and Sevier. It was borrowed from John Adair, 
the entry taker of North Carolina, for Sullivan county. 
Said he when approached on the subject : *'The money is 
not mine. I have no right to touch one cent of it. But 
if our cause is lost, it will do the state no good. If by its 
use, we can save our liberties, surely I can trust that 
country to justify and vindicate my conduct. Take it." A' 
reply worthy to be engraved on marble.* 

On the ever memorable 25th of September, 1780, there 
was witnessed on the banks of the Watauga a scene which 
will go down in history as one of the striking events of the 
Eevolution. Here was assembled nearly every human 
being belonging to the settlements of the Holston, the 
Watauga and the Nolichucky, as well as many from South- 
west Virginia. Here was the soldierly Colonel Campbell — 
ruddy and fair, like his kinsmen the renowned Argyles of 
Scotland — ^with two hundred devoted followers from over 
the border. Here was Colonel Isaac Shelby, stem and 
stalwart, almost a youth, and yet a veteran in service, 
with two hundred and forty men from the sparse settle- 
ments on the Holston. And here was Colonel John 
Sevier, sprightly, alert and fascinating, with two hundred 
and forty men gathered from the settlements of the 
Watauga and the Nolichucky. All these were virtually 
volunteers. They had mustered on their own volition. 
They had come together from a common impulse of 
patriotism. Here also was the scholarly young pioneer 
minister, the celebrated Samuel Doak, who had come from 
his infant church and classical school at Salem, nearly 

' John Adair afterward settled in Knox county, where he died in 1827, 
aged ninety-five years. He was a member of the first Constitutional Con- 
vention of Tennessee, in 1796. 

22 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

thirty miles away, to lend by his presence his influence to 
the great occasion. And here were the aged fathers and 
mothers, the wives and the sisters of the patriots, come to say 
good-bye, and to bid them God-speed in their perilous ex- 
pedition. All was bustle and excitement as the hasty 
preparations went forward. 

Anxiety with deep determination sat on each brow. 
Nearly every man present wished to go. But that was 
impossible. Some must remain behind to guard against 
an Indian outbreak. ^'Here/' exclaimed * 'Bonnie Kate,*' 
the young second wife of Colonel Sevier, pointing to a lad 
of sixteen, **here, Mr. Sevier, is another of your boys who 
wants to go with you and his brothers to the war, but, 
poor fellow, we have no horse for him, and it is too great 
a distance for him to walk.** But either with or without 
a horse, we do not know which, brave James Sevier 
did go.* 

While preparations went forward the patriots were 
thrown into a tumult of rejoicing by the unexpected arrival 
of Colonel Arthur Campbell, the cousin and brother-in-law 
of Colonel William Campbell, with two himdred more gal- 
lant men from Virginia. After the departure of Colonel 
William Campbell with two hundred men. Colonel Arthur 
Campbell became anxious about the fate of the brave men 
who were about to undertake this long and perilous expedi- 
tion. So he raised two hundred more men in South-west 
Virginia and hastily marched at their head to the Watauga. 
He arrived in time for them to join the main force, then 
on the point of marching. Among the many examples of 
noble and sublime patriotism, so conspicuously shown on 
this occasion by both leaders and soldiers, none surpass, 
in heroic devotion to the great cause of American liberty, 
that of this eminent man. By reason of this splendid con- 
tribution to the signal success of the expedition, he is 

» Draper's "King's Mountain," p. 179. 

Battle of King^s Mountain. 23 

justly entitled to be ranked as one of its heroes.^ Haying 
delivered his men to Colonel William Campbell he hastened 
back home, says Draper, *' to anxiously watch the frontiers 
of the Holston, now so largely stripped of their natural 

Never was there gathered together a more determined 
nor a more patriotic body of men than that day assembled 
on the banks of the beautiful Watauga. They were for 
the most part the pious, austere descendants of the brave 
old Covenanters of Scotland who more than two hundred 
years before at Gray Friars Church had signed (some with 
their own blood we are told) the great Covenant and 
League, and with hands uplifted to heaven had sworn to 
defend their religion and their liberties ^'all the days of 
their lives.'* And most nobly had they and their de- 
scendants kept the great Covenant through trial, persecu- 
tion and battle in Scotland, in Ireland and in the colonies 
from that day till the gathering at Sycamore Shoals, 
September 25, 1780. 

All things being ready for the march, early on the 
morning of the 26th, the men were drawn up to receive a 
benediction. The Rev. Samuel Doak invoked the divine 
blessing on the little army, and set each pious Covenanter 
heart on fire by a reference to the slaughter of the Midi- 
anites by Gideon under the guidance of the Lord. He 
gave them, in conclusion, as a battle cry, as of old : *'The 
sword of the Lord and of Gideon." • 

Assuredly great captains would be needed to lead this 

' Colonel Arthur Campbell was the grandfather of the eminent Governor 
William B. Campbell of Tennessee, more fully noticed elsewhere, so dis- 
tinguished fifty years ago as a jurist, a gallant officer in the Mexican War, 
and for his many virtues. 

« Draper's " King's Mountain," p. 175. 

' There is a tradition that it was either the Rev. Charles Cummins, of 
Virginia, or the Rev. Samuel Doak who officiated that day. The venerable 
Dr. J. G. M. Ramsey, the historian of Tennessee, told the author a few 
monthfl before hia death that his best opinion was that it was Doak. He 
he preached from the Scripture quoted. 

24 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

little army. They were to penetrate a country two hun- 
dred miles wide held by a large victorious army, and were 
to encounter the daring Ferguson, with Tarlton near at 
hand, each having a larger command than the attacking 
force. The region they were to enter was swarming with 
tories, stirred into unwonted zeal and activity by the 
presence of royal armies. These tories, it was known, 
would constantly annoy and impede the advance of the 
little patriot force, and furnish their friends with news of 
its every movement. They would hang on its flanks and 
in its rear, thus greatly enhancing its danger and retarding 
its retreat in case of disaster. On every side there was 
extreme peril. According to all military probability, as 
we know the facts now, the patriot force could hardly 

Early on the morning of the 26th of September the 
bugle sounded the signal, and the little army on the banks 
of the Watauga took up its march. Soon it was lost in 
the depths of the mountains. Its way lay for nearly a 
hundred miles through the great ranges and lofty peaks 
of the Apalachies. A constant succession of stupendous 
mountains impeded their progress. The country was liter- 
ally a wilderness. Not an open road, not a habitation, 
not a sign of human life was to be seen in these vast 
mountain solitudes until Burke county was reached. There 
were only bridle paths to guide the march. 

On reaching the settlements in Burke and Rutherford 
counties the over-mountain men were, from time to time, 
joined by small forces under Colonel Charles McDowell, 
Colonel Cleveland, Major Winston, Colonel Hambright, 
Major Graham and Major Chronicle, of North Carolina, 
and by Colonels Lacy, Hill, and Williams, of South Caro- 
lina. The entire army when united numbered about 
eighteen hundred men. 

In the commencement of the march from the Watauga, 
the officers agreed to meet each night, and determine the 
plan of operations for the next day. No one was in chief 

BaMle of King^s Mountain. 26 

command, and no one claimed this right The senior 
officer, whoever he was (probably Colonel Shelby) , intent 
only on the success of the great cause of human liberty, 
entirely ignored himself and his own claims and thought 
only of his country. Now, however, as there were several 
more officers present, as they were in the enemy's coun- 
try, and were approaching the object of the expedition and 
a final conflict with a daring enemy, a more '^efficient organ* 
izaiion^* was needed. Accordingly, Colonel Shelby, who in 
all things seemed animated alone by a supreme love of the 
cause of independence, magnanimously proposed that 
Colonel Campbell, who had marched the greatest distance 
and commanded the largest number of men, should be 
placed in chief command, until they could send to General 
Gates for General Morgan or some other ranking officer. 
This proposition was generously acceded to by the other 
officers, and thus Colonel Campbell became the commander 
of the expedition. Campbell, in a noble spirit, urged that 
Shelby should accept the command for himself. But the lat- 
ter firmly refused, saying that the officers — all of whom were 
older than himself — ^would not willingly serve under one 
so much younger than they. Colonel Charles McDowell, 
a good patriot and a competent officer, was in fact en- 
titled to the command, but it was thought by Shelby that 
he was not sufficiently active and alert for the great enter- 
prise they were then pushing forward. McDowell grace- 
fully yielded to the decision of his companions, and by re- 
quest set out for the headquarters of General Gates to ask 
that a high officer be sent forward. Major Joseph McDow- 
ell then took charge of his brother's troops, and with them 
rendered faithful service in the impending battle.^ 

* 'Campbell," says Draper, "now assumed the chief com- 
mand, in which, however, he was to be directed and regu- 
lated by the determination of the colonels, who were to 
meet every day for consultation." * Colonel Hill said that 

» Draper's " King'B Mountain," pp. 186-190. « Id., p. 190. 

26 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

he was made commander ' ' in courtesy to him and his reg- 
iment, who had marched the greatest distance." ^ Colonel 
Campbell thus became the executive officer to carry out the 
orders agreed upon by the general council. 

Ferguson on the first appearance of the patriots south of 
the mountains retreated. When he reached King's Moun- 
tain, confident of his own skill and the strength of his po- 
sition, and perhaps despising the men from the ''Back 
Water country," as he called the patriots, he halted to ac- 
cept battle. But it must be remembered that several days 
hefore this he had sent dispatches to Comwallis, at Char- 
lotte, thirty miles away, gently hinting that he needed 
help, and that he finally asked that Tarlton might be 
sent. Fortimately for our little band of heroes the first 
couriers were captured, or so delayed on the way by the 
many little bands of patriots then in motion, that the re- 
quest for help did not reach Comwallis until the day of 
hattle. He also sent to Colonel Cruger, at Ninety-six, 
for reinforcements. Except for these failures, the patriot 
Army, in all probability, would have encountered Tarlton 
as well as Ferguson. The latter remained in his fancied 
strong position in the expectation every hour of receiving 
reinforcements. He impiously declared "that God Al- 
mighty could not drive him from it." He was too proud 
spirited to retreat in the face of his previous boasts. But 
there can scarcely be a doubt that he would have done so 
if he had not been confident of help. It thus appears how 
narrowly the patriot army escaped the hazard of a doubt- 
ful contest with a greatly superior force. It must be kept 
in mind that these patriots went, not on a modem **raid" 
to destroy property, but to fight. Their purpose was to 
destroy the man who had sent them the insolent message 
a few weeks before. They would have fought just as 
readily, if he had had twice or thrice the force he actu- 

^ Draper*B " King's Mountain," p. 226. 

Battle of King^s MowrUain. 27 

ally had. They knew no fear, and were determined to 

The last two days of the inarch were occupied by a 
hurried pursuit of Ferguson. The patriots feared he 
might escape by falling back on Comwallis. So they de- 
termined to rid themselves of every incumbrance , and to 
make a forced march to overtake him. They therefore 
selected the best horses and men in order to move with the 
greatest celerity. These amounted to nine hundred and 
ten. Thus, from Campbell's men, two hundred were 
taken; from Shelby's one hundred and twenty; Sevier's 
one hundred and twenty; Cleveland's one hundred and 
ten; McDowell's ninety; Winston's sixty; Lacy's one 
himdred ; Williams' sixty, and Graham and Hambright's 
fifty. The Georgians were united with Williams* little 
force, while Chronicle's men united with Graham's.* Be- 
sides the horsemen thus selected, there seems to have been 
a few men following on foot, who failed to reach the battle- 

Thus reorganized, the patriots pushed on all night, 
through a drizzling rain, which was excessively hard a part of 
the time. The night was very dark. At sunrise they forded 
the Broad River, the stream being deep and, as its name 
indicates, broad. They had now been in the saddle, with 
only a short rest, about twenty-four hours. They were 
still fifteen miles from King's Mountain. The rain con- 
tinued to fall so heavily during the stormy forenoon that 
it was proposed by some of the officers to halt and rest. 
But the stern and determined Shelby, eager and impatient 
for the battle, positively refused to stop a minute. They 
therefore hurried forward with all the speed they could 
put into their horses. About noon the rain ceased, the 
clouds passed away, and the sun came out — ^a happy 
presage of victory. 

A brief council of war was held while the army was 

» Draper's *' King's Mountain," p. 227. 

28 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

still in motion. The patriot force was arranged in four 
columns, led respectively by Campbell and Sevier on the 
right and Shelby and Cleveland on the left. Ferguson 
was posted on an oblong mountain, in South Carolina, a 
short distance beyond the North Carolina line, some six 
hundred yards long, and on the top from sixty to one hun- 
dred and twenty wide. The plan of battle was to surround 
the mountain, and simultaneously attack Ferguson from 
the four sides. When positively assured that the enemy 
remained on the mountain, the patriots broke into a 
gallop, and dashed forward until they were within a mile 
of the object of their long pursuit. They had now 
marched, according to the daily record made at the time, 
two hxmdred and ten or perhaps two hundred and twenty- 
five miles. Here they dismounted, quickly tied their 
horses, reprimed their guns, and made hasty arrangements 
for the battle. A second opportunity was given to any of 
the men who might desire to retire, to do so, but to the 
honor of this immortal Spartan band, there was not a 
coward among them. 

At three o'clock, or a little later, October 7, 1780, the 
several columns rapidly moved out to their respective posi- 
tions. Soon the sharp crack of the celebrated Deckard 
rifle rang out on the clear mountain air.* Then the yell of 
the patriots, as they dashed up the rocky sides of the 
mountain, was heard, announcing that the battle had be- 
gun. As they reached the top, the shrill silver whistle of 
Ferguson was heard above the din and noise of battle, 
sounding the signal for a bayonet charge. The trained 
veterans, with dreadful momentum and celerity, rushed 
forward with their death-dealing bayonets, driving the 

^ The patriots were largely, if not almost entirely, armed with this cele- 
brated gon, mannfactared at Lancaster, Pennsylvania, by a man named 
Deckard. It carried a ball running from thirty to seventy bullets to the 
pound. The gun was remarkable for its precision and long range. My 
grandfather, Major Temple, carried in this battle one of these gans of 
twenty-five balls to the pound, and it was afterwards called "Old King's 

BatUe of King^s Mountain. 29 

patriots down the mountain. Now the silver whistle was 
again heard, recalling the pursuers. While the patriots 
on one side of the mountain were recoiling from the deadly 
bayonets of Ferguson's serried phalanx, other patriot col- 
umns had appeared on the summit, and were pouring their 
fatal shot into the rear of the enemy. High above all this 
noise the silver whistle was again heard, ordering a charge 
on the other side of the mountain. Again the mountain 
men fell back before the terrible bayonets, and again the 
pursuers were recalled to meet new enemies, who con- 
stantly appeared on the mountain crest. Three times 
Shelby's and Campbell's men were driven down the moun- 
tain — the last time the retreat becoming almost a rout — 
and three times they were rallied and led back to the fight 
by their brave leaders. The mountain smoked like a vol- 
cano. A flame of fire encircled it and flashed from every 
side. Closer and closer the cordon of fire was drawn 
around the doomed army of Ferguson. Wherever the 
danger was thickest, there was Ferguson, urging on his 
veteran soldiers. Wherever the battle raged the fiercest, 
there was ever heard the shrill sound of the whistle of this 
dauntless officer. With sword in hand, he was every- 
where seen encouraging his men. Twice flags were run 
up by his men, in token of surrender, and twice Ferguson 
indignantly struck them down. He was urged by Major 
De Peyster, his second in command, to surrender. He 
swore he would **never yield to such a d— d banditti." 

The British had been pressed into a narrow space on the 
mountain-top by the impetuous mountain men, who were 
pouring deadly volleys into the huddled mass from every 
quarter. Ferguson, seeing that all was lost, determined to 
cut his way out. With a few followers, and with desper- 
ate courage, he spurred forward into the midst of his ene- 
mies, cutting and slashing with his sword until it was 
broken. But keen eyes were fastened on him. Soon he 
fell in death, pierced by half a dozen bullets. White hand- 
kerchiefs were now hoisted on ramrods as signals of sur- 

30 East TennMsee and the Civil War. 

render. But more or less firing still continued on the part 
of the hot-headed young men, who remembered the savage 
treatment Tarlton had given Colonel Buford on a previous 
occasion. * 'Quarter 1 Quarter!" imploringly shouted the 
British, as the firing still went on. The intrepid Shelby, 
seeing that they still retained their arms in their hands, 
rushed forward on horseback and shouted, in his extraor- 
dinary voice: **D — n you, if you want quarter, throw 
down your arms I'' Quickly this was done, and the firing 

The battle lasted just one hour and five minutes. In 
this dreadful time, short as it was, two hundred and twenty 
men on the enemy's side had perished, and one hundred 
and eighty were wounded. Four hundred out of eleven 
hundred — a frightful havoc ! Either six or seven hundred 
(the authorities differ as to the exact number) were taken 
prisoners. General Greene gave the number of prisoners 
taken as ** upward of six hundred." This is probably aa 
near the truth as the discrepancies will allow. Of those 
present in the fight, not one escaped. On the side of the 
patriots, twenty-eight were killed and sixty-one woxmded. 
Among the former were the brave Colonel Williams, of 
South Carolina, Major Chronicle, of North Carolina, and 
Captain Robert Sevier, from the Nolichucky, mortally 
wounded, besides a number of other officers. 

No enterprise of the Revolution was more daring iu 
conception or more skillful in execution than this. The 
expedition to Canada and the attempt on Quebec, in 1777, 
under General Arnold, were perhaps as daring and as dan- 
gerous, but they failed of success. The dash of Colonel 
Ethan Allen on Ticonderoga was certainly one of great 
boldness. But it sinks far below King's Mountain, whether 
considered in reference to the numbers engaged, or the im- 
portance of the success to the general cause of independ- 
ence. The capture of Stony Point by General Wayne, in 
1779, was a brilliant affair and, from a military point of 
view, of the greatest importance to the patriot cause. But 

BaUle of King^s Mountain. 31 

Wayne had four regiments of men at his command, waa 
backed by all the resources of the main army under "Wash- 
ington ; the garrison to be attacked was feeble in numbers, 
and the distance to be marched only a few miles. 

In boldness of conception and in marvelous success in 
execution, the expedition of General George Rogers Clarke 
into Illinois, in 1780, is the only one during the Revolu- 
tion that will bear a successful comparison with that of 
Eang's Mountain. In its immediate consequences, in its 
influence on the great contest then going on in the colo- 
nies for independence and freedom, the conquest of Clarke, 
brilliant as it certainly was, had but little potency. 

There seems to have been but little of ordinary military 
discipline and military forms in this expedition and in 
this battle. Shelby said to the army: **When you en- 
counter the enemy, don't wait for the command. Let 
each one of you be your own officer, ... If in the 
woods, shelter yourselves and give them Indian play ; ad- 
vance from tree to tree. Never shoot till you see the 
enemy, and never shoot without bringing down your 

There was indeed but little regular training and disci- 
pline among the common soldiers of this expedition. They 
were not of the material of which armies are usually com- 
posed. They needed but little training. They were al- 
most entirely the intelligent, independent proprietors of 
their own little farms from the Upper Holston, in Virginia ; 
from the Watauga, the Nolichucky and the Lower Holston^ 
in what is now East Tennessee ; from the Yadkin and the 
Broad River region of North Carolina, and from York and 
Chester counties, in South Carolina. Many of the latter, 
from South Carolina, had seen service under Siunter. But. 
it would be a great mistake to suppose that this little army 
was made up of raw recruits wholly unused to war. While 
they were not trained veterans, there was scarcely a man 
among them who had not before seen active service in one 
or more short campaigns against either the British or the In- 

32 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

dians. Many of them had been inured to irregular war- 
fare from their boyhood. From their frontier life they 
had been accustomed to danger in all its forms. Many of 
them had just served in the short but successful campaign 
in South Carolina, under Shelby and Robertson. They 
had been with these brave officers at Musgrove Mill, at 
Cedar Spring and Thickety Fort. Many others had seen 
much hard service of a more regular character, under Mc- 
Dowell, Cleveland, Winston, Hambright, Lacy, Graham 
and Williams. And others still had gained hard experi- 
ence in short campaigns, under Colonels William and Ar- 
thur Campbell, in Virginia, or Colonel Sevier in Indian 
fights in Tennessee. And the roll shows that a number of 
tried men at King's Mountain had served with Colonel 
Evan Shelby in the memorable battle of Point Pleasant, in 
1774. While, perhaps, all these men had seen some serv- 
ice in the field, they by no means constituted a trained 

Worthless characters, such as often hang on the outskirts 
of society, not identified in interest and sympathy with 
the community, had from the first been speedily disposed 
of in a siunmary manner by Sevier and Robertson, in the 
Watauga settlements, and by the Campbells in Virginia. 
Never were communities more exacting in the selection of 
their members. None but persons above all reproach, 
none but those who came to identify themselves with a 
noble movement to build up a pure civilization, based on 
the principles of freedom and Christianity, were permitted 
to remain. 

Draper says of these men : 

* 'Those from the Holston, under Campbell, were a peculiar 
people — somewhat of the character of Cromwell's soldiery. 
They were almost to a man Presbyterians. In their homes, 
in the Holston Valley, they were settled in pretty compact 
congregations, quite tenacious of their religious and civil 
liberties, as handed down from father to son from their 
Scotch-Irish ancestors. Their preacher. Rev. Charles 

BaUU of King^8 Mowatava. 33 

Cummins, was well fitted for the times ; a man of piety 
and sterling patriotism, who constantly exerted himself to 
encourage his people to make every needed sacrifice and 
put forth every exertion in defense of the liberties of their 
country. They were a remarkable body of men, both 
physically and mentally. Inured to frontier life, raised 
mostly in Augusta and Rockbridge coimties, Virginia, a 
frontier region in the French and Indian War, they early 
settled on the Holston, and were accustomed from their 
childhood to border life and hardship ; ever ready at the 
tap of the drum to turn out on military service ; if, in the 
busiest crop season, their wives, sisters and daughters 
could, in their absence, plant and sow and harvest. They 
were better educated than most of the frontier settlers, and 
had a more thorough understanding of the questions at 
issue between the colonies and their mother country. 
These men went forth to strike their coimtry's foes as did 
the patriarchs of old, feeling assured that the God of 
battles was with them, and that He would surely crown 
their efforts with success. They had no doubts, no fears. 
They trusted in €k)d — and kept their powder dry. Such a 
thing as a coward was not known among them. 

"Lacy's men, mostly from York and Chester coimties. 
South Carolina, and some of those under Shelby, Sevier, 
Cleveland, "Williams, Winston and McDowell were of the 
same character — Scotch-Irish Presbyterians ; but many of 
them, especially those from the NoUchucky, Watauga and 
Lower Holston, who had not been very long settled on the 
frontiers, were more of a mixed race, somewhat rough, but 
brave, fearless and full of adventure. They were not a 
whit less patriotic than the Virginians, and were ever 
ready to hug a bear, scalp an Indian, or beard the fiercest 
tories wherever they could be found." * 

The distinction drawn in the foregoing extracts between 
the people of Washington county, Virginia, and those 

* Draper's " King's Mountain," p. 242. 


34 East Tennessee and the CivU War. 

dwelling across the state line, in Tennessee, on the Lower 
Holston, on the Watauga and on the Nolichucky, is not 
well founded. All these settlements were formed of people 
of substantially the same race and the same origin. 

A large majority of these early settlers, both in South- 
west Virginia and in East Tennessee, as I attempted to 
show in the preceding chapter, were of Covenanter, or 
Scotch-Irish, blood, of the same characteristics, the same 
intellectual advancement and the same religion. Of the 
former the Rev. Charles Cummins and the Campbells 
were representative types, and of the latter the Bev. 
Samuel Doak and James Robertson. 

It is therefore evident that the people on the Tennessee 
side of the line, in 1780, were in nowise inferior to those 
on the Virginia side. Mr. Draper has cited no authority 
in support of his statements in this regard, and it is be- 
lieved he had none. He has drawn a disparaging distinc- 
tion between two people, when in fact no material differ- 
ence existed. Both Douglas Campbell and Theodore 
Roosevelt, as we have seen, sustain this view, of Mr. 
Draper's error. ^ 

The three leading men of this expedition, and the three 
who became most eminent by their achievements, were 
Colonel William Campbell, Colonel Isaac Shelby and 
Colonel John Sevier. 

On the occasion of the seizure of the arsenal and arms 
of the Colony of Virginia by the royal governor, Dunmore, 
Colonel Campbell had raised a company, and had marched 
from the extreme south-western part of the state to Will- 
iamsburgh — a distance of probably four hundred miles — 
to aid in defense of the state. From that time until 
1780 he had been active in the service of the colonies, a 
part of the time serving in the field. He was a brave 
and skillful officer. As early as January 27, 1776, he and 
Colonel Arthur Campbell and other prominent citizens of 

> Roosevelt's " Winning of the West,'* Vol. I, p. 180, note. 

Battle of King's Mountain. 86 

Fincastle county, from their little settlement on the remote 
Holston, had sent an address to the Continental Congress, 
declaring their determination to **live as freemen," or to 
die in the defense of * 'liberty and loyalty." * 

Colonel Shelby, as we have seen, when a mere youth, 
had served as a lieutenant under his father. Captain (aft- 
erward General) Evan Shelby in the great and desperate 
Indian battle of Point Pleasant.' In the summer of 1780, 
he served in the South with distinguished honor as colonel 
in the engagements at Thickety Fort, Cedar Springs, and 
Musgrove's Mill. In each he displayed dauntless courage 
and high military capacity. He was, in fact, a natural 
commander of men. 

It is difficult to read Draper's elaborate history of this 
expedition without being forced to the conclusion that the 
master spirit of it was Shelby, though he was evidently 
not the hero of the author. Aside from Shelby's agency in 
originating (in conjunction with Sevier) this enterprise, and 
successfully putting it on foot, in every step subsequently 
taken his paramount influence was manifest. It was he 
who successfully settled the question of command, which, 
if not settled, might and doubtless would have weakened, 
delayed and finally defeated the object of the expe<ii- 
tion. One little incident related by Draper reveals the kind 
of man Shelby was in war. On the morning of the day 
of the battle, after having traveled hard through the rain 
since the evening before, many of the horses having given 
out, and the men being hungry and exhausted, Campbell, 
Sevier and Cleveland, concluded that it was best to make 
a halt and refresh the men and horses. So they rode up 
to Shelby and informed him of their determination. He 
replied roughly, with an oath: ^'I will not stop until 
night, if I follow Ferguson into Comwallis' lines." With- 

^ Campbell's " PaTitan in Holland, England, and America," Vol. II, pp. 
479, 486. 
» Draper's " King's Mountain," p. 381. 

36 East Tenriessee arid the CivU War. 

out a word of reply the other officers returned to their sev- 
eral commands.^ Shelby was in stature of great size ; his 
aspect was grave, dignified and stern ; his eyes bright and 
penetrating; his voice stentorian, and his countenance 
lighted with intellectual activity. A glance at him showed 
the observer that he was no ordinary man. In courage 
and determination he was equal to the demands of the 
most exacting situation. He pursued his object with un- 
faltering energy. His subsequent career was full of un- 
usual honors and patriotic services. Having moved to 
Kentucky, he was chosen the first governor of the state, 
and served in that honorable position for two years. When 
the country was shrouded in the deep gloom of the "War of 
1812, his fellow-citizens again turned to him for wisdom and 
guidance, by electing him for the second time chief execu- 
tive of the commonwealth. In 1813, he led the Ken- 
tucky troops in the Canadian Campaign, which resulted 
in the glorious victory of the Thames. In 1817, he was 
appointed Secretary of War by President Monroe, which 
high office he was compelled to decline on account of ad- 
vancing age. In 1818, he was appointed by President 
Monroe, together with Andrew Jackson, to negotiate a 
treaty with the Chickasaw Indians, by which the title to 
all the land west of the Tennessee River, in Tennessee and 
Kentucky, passed to the United States. 

The third of these three remarkable men, Colonel John 
Sevier, was not less worthy or distinguished than the other 
two. He had been a soldier from the time he held a com- 
mission as captain in the royal army in Virginia, under 
Governor Dunmore. He had been in many fights with 
the fierce Cherokees, and was the recognized defender of 
the settlements. It was he who was the author of the re- 
markable address from the Independent Watauga Associa- 
tion to the Provincial Council of North Carolina, in 1776, 
in which, as we have seen, that body asked to be allowed 

^ Draper's " King's Mountain," p. 227. 

Battle of King^B Mountain. 37 

to contribute their part of the expenses of the Revolution, 
and to * 'share in the glorious cause of liberty," The uni- 
form leadership accorded to Colonel Sevier, the high hon- 
ors achieved by him, and his almost unexampled influence 
from his first advent in the settlements of East Tennessee, 
in 1770 or 1771, down to his death, in 1815, conclusively 
prove the remarkable strength and integrity of his charac- 
ter. A man who was able to defy and successfully with- 
stand the opposition of Greneral Jackson, as he did, was 
surely no ordinary person. In person, he was tall, grace- 
ful and handsome ; in manners, vivacious and knightly. 
He was bom to be the idol of men, and, therefore, their 
leader. For nearly forty years, his sway over the hearts 
and minds of the people among whom he dwelt was un- 
broken, and as absolute as that of a Scottish chief over 
his clan in the sixteenth century. His genius for com- 
mand in battle, especially such as the * 'hurly-burly " of 
Eling's Mountain, was proven in more than thirty success- 
ful Indian battles. His rules of war were: rapidity of 
movement, a surprise, an impetuous charge. The whole 
campaign of Eling's Mountain was in perfect accord with 
his practice in war. Honors crowned his whole civil life, 
until its close, in 1815. Honored by an election as the 
first chief magistrate of the state, as his intimate friend 
and associate in war had been in Kentucky, he was subse- 
quently five times re-elected to the same high office. He 
was, at intervals, three times elected a member of con- 
gress, and, finally, while absent on an important mission 
in the Greek nation, under an appointment of President 
Madison, was again elected, without opposition, for the 
fourth time by his devoted constituents. But he never 
returned to fill this position. 

The honors won by these men in the brilliant victory of 
King's Mountain were about equal. Where each had an 
honorable position, and an independent command assigned 
to him, and each did his full duty in action, it would be 
unjust to claim any higher honors for one than for the 

38 East Tennessee and the CivU War. 

others. The same is true of Colonel Cleveland also— the 
fourth division commander. But this brave officer had 
no share in the honor of the early part of this glorious 

Before closing this chapter, I may appropriately refer to 
the great influence that has been exerted upon society 
during the last hundred years by the Shelbys, the Camp- 
bells, the Seviers, and the Robertsons, and their collaterals 
in blood. To these I may properly add the name of 
Major John Tipton, since he was the second in command 
in Sevier's regiment at King's Mountain, at Guilford 
Court-house, and on other fields of valor during the Revo- 
lution. He was unquestionably one of the bravest and 
best patriots of the Revolution. The great and widely- 
extended influence that has been exercised by the families 
bearing these honored names, and by those of their blood, 
but not of the family name, show how strongly our people 
cling to the glory of noble deeds and illustrious names. In 
each of these families there has descended to their pos- 
terity, not only exalted names, but many of the lofty 
virtues, and much of the nobility of soul, which distin- 
guished their ancestors. There have appeared in each gen- 
eration, in the ever-widening circle in descent, much of 
that genuine robustness, that strength of character which 
belonged to their distinguished ancestors. Marked traits 
of character, such as courage, determination, eloquence, 
honor, stateliness and majesty of person, marvelous will- 
power, and the faculty to fascinate and lead — ^these, or 
some of these, are constantly appearing in the descendants 
of these old families. 

These numerous descendants, multiplied by five or six 
generations, have swollen into almost tens of thousands. 
They are to be found in almost every Southern and in 
many of the North-western states. They have furnished 
honored, and in some cases, brilliant and distinguished 
representatives, to the National Senate and House of 

BaUU of King^a Mountain. 89 

Bepresentatives, governors of states, judges and members 
of the bar, legislators of the states, high officers in 
war, in the pulpit, and in all the walks of private life. 
They have given at least four United States senators to the 
nation, six governors of states, a number of generals and 
representatives in congress, and many legislators and 
judges and other high functionaries. 

So distinguished were the founders of these families, 
that, in an earlier age and in a royal government, titles of 
nobility would have rewarded their services, and descended 
to their posterity, It would be difficult to name in the 
Southern States five families that have exercised such wide 
' influence, and combined on the whole so many high and 
noble qualities.* 

As we recede from the revolution, I fear that its great 
events become less and less sacred and inspiring. In the 

^ It 18 dngular how writers and even relatives, have become confounded 
as to the Christian name of John Tipton. In Lyman Draper's exhaustive 
history of ** Kinfi^s Moontain and its Heroes/'— the only full history of that 
battle ever written— the major who was second in command under Sevier, 
in that and in other battles is called Jonathan Tipton. Draper says that 
Jonathan Tipton died in Overton county, Tennessee, in 1832, aged eighty- 
three. Haywood and Phelan, both historians of Tennessee, call the offi- 
cer who was major under Sevier, John Tipton. Ramsey, anoUier historian, 
while generally calling him John, in two or three places speaks of Major 
Tipton as Jonathan Tipton. 

Seeing this discrepancy, and knowing the general accuracy and high 
character of Draper as a historian, I was naturally led to an investigation 
of the question : Which is the correct name 7 For this purpose I set on 
foot an extensive inquiry. This, for a while, resulted in worse confusion. 
One direct descendant, who had traced out the history of Tipton with great 
care, said that John and Jonathan were the same persons, known by both 
these names. Another person, who professed to know all about the 
'Hptons, and who had studied the early history of Upper East Tennessee 
more minutely than any one within my knowledge, said very positively 
that the true name was Jonathan Tipton, and that he died while a mem- 
ber of the legislature in Nashville, in 1836, and was buried there, receiving 
the honor of a public funeral on the part of the state. A number of 
relatives and intelligent gentlemen, to whom I applied, were unable to 
give any information. 

Finally, I was indebted to Dr. A. Jobe, of Elk Park, North Carolina, a 
great grandson of John Tipton — a gentleman of education and intelli- 

40 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

rush of passing events, we are forgetting the sacrifices, 
the toils and the heroic deeds of our patriot forefathers. 
Would that we could have one spark of the fire of seventy- 
six to warm our hearts with a patriotic glow. For one, I 
would uncover my head, at the name and in the presence 
of the majestic men of the Revolution. 

gence — ^for a solution of this question. He says the name was John and 
not Jonathan Tipton. He does not say in so many words that John Tipton 
was never called Jonathan until recently, but it is clear from his statement 
that he was not. Instead of dying in Overton county, in 1832, or in Nash- 
ville, in 1836, and being buried in one of these places, or in both, ac- 
cording to the different accounts, he died and was buried on his farm in 
Washington county, Tennessee, one and one-half miles south of Johnson 
City, where he lived at the time of his battle with John Sevier. He had nine 
sons. Two of these were Jonathan and John. The first settled in Blount 
county, Tennessee, and represented that county in the legislature again and 
again. According to the account I have, he was no doubt mistaken by some 
persons for his father and confounded with him. It is probable he was buried 
at the public expense when he died as a member of the legislature. John 
Tipton, the youngest son, remained in Garter county and became some- 
what distinguished. He served on the staff of General Jackson at New 
Orleans, and was complimented by the old hero for his daring and courage. 
It is a reproach to the state, or to the people of the state, or to his numer- 
ous friends and relatives, that '* no rock shows the last resting place " of 
one of the bravest heroes and best patriots of the Bevolution. 

The Early InhahitanU of East Tennessee. 41 



Early inhabitanta—Covenanters—Establishment of colleges and grammar 
Bchools— Cession of territory by North Carolina— "Territory South- 
west of the River Ohio '' established— Constitutional Convention of 
1796— Bill of Rights— Safeguards of liberty— Error in not providing for 
universal education — Error of states in reference to same — Wisdom of 
congress— Older states received no benefit from act of 1785 — ^Universi- 
ties and colleges— Waste of public lands on railroad corporations — 
Folly of congress as to universal education— Land-owners the conserva- 
tive force and the main-stay of the Republic— Character of early settlers 
of East Tennessee — All were toilers— The women — Spinning and weav- 
ing—The Sabbath in early times — Attending church — ^political discus- 
sions—Religious controversies— People well informed on these sub- 
jects—Leisure of the people. 

In my last chapter I briefly referred to the coming of the 
Covenanters into East Tennessee, and the part they took 
in the Revolutionary War. They had borne a great and 
honorable part in achieving our independence . The war was 
now over. Henceforth they were to tread the quiet paths 
of peace. Yet their history was to be no less honorable 
in peace than it had been in war. Wherever they had 
been, they had been the friends of education. In every 
place where they had settled, they had at once provided the 
means for the higher education of their people. As far as 
possible they established schools for every congregation. 
Colleges and grammar schools were provided for larger 
districts, as recommended at an early day by the Synod of 
North Carolina. The preacher, in those days, and even 
down to a much latter day, was a teacher also. These 
schools were generally theological as well as classical. The 
ministers were educated in all the learning of the day. 
While they still resided in Ireland, they received their 
training in the great universities of Scotland, at Glasgow 

42 East Tennessee and the Civil Wa/r. 

and Edinburgh. When they came to the colonies^ these 
same men opened classical schools in the wilderness for the 
higher education of young men. They brought to the 
New World the learning of the Old, and by means of 
their numerous grammar schools and colleges, it was trans- 
mitted to their successors. But there could not be, ex- 
cept by the state, and there was not, free and universal 
education. Before the close of the century these educated 
ministers had established and put into successful opera- 
tion, in East Tennessee, three institutions of learning : 
Washington College, Greeneville College and Blount Col- 
lege, the first in 1780. These all became great centers of 
learning, and all survive to this day. Washington Col- 
lege was the first educational institution in the Mississippi 

The legislature of North Carolina, in 1789, ceded her 
western territory, now known as Tennessee, to the Govern- 
ment of the United States. Congress having accepted 
the deed of cession, passed an act for the establishment 
and the government of this territory, under the name of 
the **Territory South-west of the River Ohio." Why it 
should have been spoken of as the * * Territory South-west 
of the River Ohio,'* is certainly singular, when it is re- 
membered that this territory nowhere touched the Ohio 
River, the State of Kentucky intervening between Ten- 
nessee and that river. 

In 1796, the people of Tennessee, through their chosen 
delegates, assembled in convention at KnoxviUe, to frame 
their state constitution. Their work is a monument of 

^ It IB a Bingular fact that precisely the same claim is made in Ken- 
tucky, for Transylvania Seminary, at Lezin^n. The facts on which this 
claim is based are these: In 1780, the legislature of Virginia chartered 
Transylvania Seminary as an educational institution. But it seems that it 
vras not ready to receive students until 1788. Eight years after Samuel 
Doak opened his school at Salem, and five years after it was incorporated 
as Martin Academy. It thus appears that Washington College is the old- 
est educational institution put into operation in the Mississippi Valley. — 
Carl Schurz' " Life of Henry Clay," 

The Ea/rh/ Inhabitants of East Termessee. 43 

their foresight and intelligence. If they had not been 
taught by recent sad experience, and by yolumes of tradi- 
tion fall of warning, many of the safeguards to be found in 
that constitution would not have been put there. Every 
declaration in the ''Bill of Rights" has an historic cause, full 
of warning and significant import. No people ever had 
greater reason for exercising wisdom and caution than these 
Covenanters. Of the thirty-two articles composing the 
^'Declartionof Eights," all but three were intended to close 
the door forever against the exercise of arbitrary power on 
the part of all persons in authority. Nearly every one of 
them was the sequence of some great wrong which they or 
their ancestors had suffered, a repetition of which was thus 
to be prevented. How full of meaning to the descendants 
of the old Covenanters were the following articles : 

**II. That government being instituted for the common 
benefit, the doctrine of non-resistance against arbitrary 
power and oppression is absurd, slavish, and destructive to 
the good and happiness of mankind. 

*'III. That all men have a natural and indefeasible 
right to worship the Almighty God according to the dic- 
tates of their own consciences ; that no man can, of right, 
be compelled to attend, erect or support any place of wor- 
ship or to maintain any ministry against his consent ; that 
no human authority can, in any case whatever, control or 
interfere with the rights of conscience ; that no preference 
shall ever be given by law to any religious establishment 
or mode of worship. 

*'IV. That no religious test shall ever be required as a 
qualification to any office or public trust in this state." 

It would seem that the convention might have been sat- 
isfied with these safeguards for the security of their reli- 
gion ; but it was not. It closed the door by the following 
article against the very men who had been the most active 
in the colonies in preaching and teaching armed resistance 
to the British crown : 

"Vni. Whereas, ministers of the gospel are, by their 

44 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

profession, dedicated to God and the care of souls, and 
ought not to be diverted from the great duties of their 
functions ; therefore, no minister of the gospel, or priest of 
any denomination whatever, shall be eligible to a seat in 
either house of the legislature." 

There seems to have been a little undercurrent of irony 
in this article, when the exclusion of ministers from legis- 
lative honors and duties is placed on the ground that **they 
ought not to be diverted from the great duties of their 
fimctions." It may be noted that there was at least one 
minister who was a member of the convention, namely, 
Stephens Brooks, a prominent Methodist in his day, and a 
good man, and that he voted to retain this clause. 

There was still one more clause necessary, in the opinion 
of the convention, for the complete security and perpetuity 
of religion, and that was this : 

"No person who denies the being of God oj* a future 
state of rewards and pimishments, shall hold any office in 
the civil department of the state." 

Our fathers builded wisely and solidly. If their work 
should perish and pass away, it will be no fault of theirs. 
Everything was done that human wisdom could do to se- 
cure for themselves and their posterity the blessings of 
freedom and religion. 

The only great error of this convention was in not pro- 
viding in some way for the universal education of the 
people. Had that been done, it is highly probable that our 
wealth to-day would be nearly double what it is, and our 
population much larger. 

The people of New England were in no sense superior 
to the men who settled in the southern colonies. The 
one, at an early day, established universal education ; the 
other did not. The one has grown rich and prosperous, 
and has extended her empire of mind to some extent all 
over the west ; the other has grown, it is true, but not 
with that marvelous rapidity which her boundless re- 
sources justified. An educated people, unless enfeebled 

The Early InJuibitcmts of East Tennessee. 45 

by slavery, is always an active, industrious, pushing 
people. They conceive and project great enterprises. No 
intelligent people is, or can be, a lazy people. Ignorance 
is weakness, dependence, inferiority. 

It presents a curious question for speculation why the 
three southern colonies, North Carolina, South Carolina 
and Oeorgia, did not do as the New England colonies did 
in reference to education. It is easy to see why Virginia 
did not. That state was more or less under the influence 
of an aristocracy. The southern colonies were not. The 
Covenanters largely controlled North Carolina. They and 
the Huguenots were in the ascendency in South Carolina, 
and were largely so in Georgia. These people, and cer- 
tainly it is true of the Covenanters, were in intelligence 
and culture quite equal to the New England colonists. 
They had been accustomed to education before they came 
to America. As early as 1692, **The Estates" in Scotland 
passed a law requiring every parish to provide for a school 
house and for the pay of a schoolmaster. Under the in- 
fluence of this law the Scotch became the most intelligent 
people in Europe. The Scotch colonists in Ireland also 
were superior in intelligence to the English who were 
planted by their side. But universal education could only 
be established by the state and not by congregations. 

If the New England and the New York colonists had the 
example of the people of Holland before them in providing 
for common schools, so likewise the Covenanters had the 
example of Scotland, as well as that well-defined influence 
always exerted by the Presbyterian Church in that direc- 
tion. Why, then, I repeat, did they not, wherever they 
were in the majority and controlled the state, provide for 
universal education. 

Looking back to the early days of our Republic another 
fact seems remarkable. At the close of the Revolutionary 
War the states in their sovereign capacity were the owners 
of all the public lands within their respective boundaries. 
New York owned a large territory west of her present 

46 E<i8t Tennessee omd the Civil War. 

western boundary. Virginia not only owned the State of 
Kentucky, but also a vast territory north of the Ohio and 
east of the Mississippi Rivers, by virtue of its conquest by 
General George Rodgers Clarke. North Carolina owned 
the territory comprising the present State of Tennessee. 
And Georgia owned the territory comprising the present 
States of Alabama and Mississippi. All this vast territory 
was at different dates generously and magnanimously 
ceded by the several states owning it to the old Con- 
federation, or to the United States, to help to pay the 
national debt incurred in achieving our independence, 
amounting to seventy-five millions of dollars. 

In 1789, as we have seen, the State of North Carolina 
ceded the territory west of the Alleghany Moimtains, now 
composing the State of Tennessee, to the United States. 
A striking fact about the cession of the territory now form- 
ing the State of Tennessee is that there is no reservation 
of any portion of this land for educational purposes. Here, 
as it seems at this day, was a singular want of fore- 

I can recall no single act in the history of our country 
so wise, so beneficent, so far reaching in its results, as that 
of the congress of 1785, in setting apart from our public 
lands every sixteenth section in each township for school 
purposes. In 1858 an additional section in each township 
was granted by congress for this purpose. The old states, 
of course, can receive no benefit from this last act, 
for in them all the public land of any value is entered 
or sold. Indeed, many of the old states never received 
any benefit from the grant made by the act of 1786. 
Tennessee, although not admitted into the Union until 
eleven years afterward, was only partially benefited by 
that grant, because previous to that time all of the best 
land, both in East and Middle Tennessee, had been en- 
tered, or covered by military land warrants or certificates 
issued by North Carolina. So East Tennessee derived 

The Early InhabiUmts of East Tennessee. 47 

but little benefit from this beneficent policy of the Gk>y- 

Grants of land to the states under acts of Congress for 
educational purposes amount at this time to 78,000,000 
acres, a larger area, if in one body, than Great Britain and 
Ireland combined.^ The expenditures for common schools 
in the United States, in 1888 and 1889, amounted to 
$130,000,000, besides about $40,000,000 for high schools.* 
In addition to what the national government has done for 
common schools by the foregoing acts, may be mentioned 
the splendid grants of land, under the MorriU and Hatch 
Acts, in aid of agriculture and the sciences. 

Suppose Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia, when 
they ceded their public lands to the United States for 
the common benefit of all, had reserved, as it was per- 
fectly competent for them to do, one-fifth, or even one- 
tenth of their lands, for the benefit of common schools. 
Who can estimate the consequences that would have fol- 
lowed such an act? Few will doubt that the result in 
Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama and Mississippi would 
have been most momentous. It would have changed and 
modified the destiny of those states in a degree hardly ap- 
preciable to-day. 

Our fathers seemed to think that the way to educate a 
people was to begin at the top. They chartered and estab- 
lished colleges without stint, but with no endowments. 
They failed, at least in the Southern States, to begin at 
the bottom and work upward, through a thorough system 
of free 'common schools. Had this been done, colleges 
would soon have followed. Even congress, when feebly 
providing for two colleges and for county academies in 
Tennessee, out of her public lands, when the state was 
formed into a territory, seemed to act as if that were all 
that was necessary for the education of the people. Mr. 

1 << The Puritan in Holland, England and America, by Douglas Camp- 
bell, Vol. I, p. 81. 
• Id., p. 87. 

48 East Tennessee <md the Civil War. 

Jefferson worked forty years in trying to build up a great 
state university in Virginia^ as well as common schools 
and academies. He finally succeeded as to the university. 
But does that university, great as it is, meet the pressing 
wants of the people? Not at all. Only a fraction of her 
population can ever at one time be directly benefited by it. 
But leaven the mass below and it will soon leaven the 
superincumbent mass above. Educate the great body of 
the people, and the demand for higher and still higher op- 
portxmities will surely follow. Colleges and universities 
would appear, as naturally as the fruit follows the flower. 
They would take care of themselves at the proper time. 
But both the college and the common school could have 
been secured, as in Texas, if the proper use had been made 
of the public lands. 

Virginia neglected to some extent her great opportunity. 
At the close of the Revolution, she was the leading state in 
the federation, both in population and in the ability of her 
statesmen. Her climate, soil, resources and geographical 
position were all that could have been desired. But she 
neglected to foster common education, as she should have 
done, and trusted too much in her great names. She 
rested too confidently in the influence of her first families 
and in her university, and from that day her greatness 
began to wane. 

Some of these days, and the time may not be distant, 
this generation, as well as the preceding one also, will be 
challenged before the tribunal of history for the unparal- 
leled waste of our public lands. Already we hear the 
mutterings of the coming storm. At the close of the 
Revolution in 1783, there were probably not twenty-five 
thousand English speaking inhabitants west of the Stale of 
New York and the AUeghanies, in all that vast region be- 
longing to us or afterward acquired. All that immense 
territory, sufficient for a great empire, was practically un- 
occupied by the white race, except by a few inconsiderable 
settlements. Thus we had a vast region open for settle- 

The Early Inhabitants of East Tennessee. 49 

ment with its lands at the disposal of the national govern- 
ment. The folly of the states that ceded these lands to 
the goyemmenty without reserving any interest in them 
for educational purposes, has already been hinted at. 

But the stupendous folly of congress in not providing 
for a system of xmiversal education, for all the states, out 
of these lands, and those that might be subsequently ac- 
quired, is equally as great. Suppose one-fifth of the pub- 
lic lands had been devoted to this object, what wonderful 
results might have followed, nay, rather, would have fol- 
lowed. Our people to-day would be in all the branches of 
learning, except perhaps in music, the fine arts, and in 
the classics, very far ahead of any nation in the world. 
The waste of the public domain, by the extravagant 
grants of land to railroad corporations and for canals and 
wagon-roads, is still more apparent Imd criminal. Under 
extreme circumstances, such as aiding in building one or 
even two or three lines to the Pacific, as a means of na- 
tional security, reasonable appropriations of land might 
have been justified, especially in time of great public peril. 
But, conceding this, the grants that have been made have 
been extravagant and reckless. If, however, the grants 
had been confined to two or three great highways, con- 
necting our remote possessions, there would be a plausible, 
if not a real, justification of them. This, unfortunately, 
is not the case. Grant after grant, in countless numbers, 
have been made in all the north-western and in all the 
new states. Indeed, they have been made wherever we 
had public lands. Many of them were for objects purely 
local, and in no sense national. This was unjust to posterity 
and grossly unjust to the older states. Florida,Louisiana, 
New Mexico, Arizona, California and other states were pur- 
chased with the common treasure of the nation. And yet 
the older states have received no part of the proceeds of 
the public lands (except a small sum distributed among 
them, perhaps, in 1835) , either for the purpose of building 

60 East Tenneasee and the CivU War. 

railroads, or for educational purposes, until recently, un- 
der the three bills known as the Morrill and the Hatch 
Acts. And these were intended to promote higher educa- 
tion. The people of these older states have been left to 
build railroads as best they could, with their own means, 
while a large part of the public land has been given away 
to railroad corporations with a prodigality unparalleled in 
the history of legislation. 

Tennessee and Kentucky, or, probably, I should say, 
North Carolina and Virginia, did more toward the '* Win- 
ning of the West," and in securing the Mississippi instead 
of the Alleghanies as our western boimdary line in 1783, 
than any, or, indeed, all, of the other states, and yet, if 
those states have ever received the benefit of an acre of 
public land for railroads, or wagon-roads, or canals, I am 
not aware of the fact. 

Our legislators have acted as if they thought our public 
domain would last forever. Vain delusion! In a few 
more brief years, the honest settler will hunt in vain for 
his free homestead. Our magnificent domain has been 
wasted on grasping, gigantic corporations. And the older 
states' have stood by, consenting to the monstrous spolia- 
tion, until, in a short time, their sons will not be able to 
find a homestead in all our national territory. 

The early inhabitants of East Tennessee were genuine 
patriots. With them, liberty was not a meaningless word. 
They knew its price. They had suffered and fought for 
it. Within its wide import was gathered the memory of 
three centuries of trial, endurance, suffering and battle for 
its sake. If ever a people knew the cost of liberty, it was 
they. For three hundred years their ancestors had strug- 
gled for it. For it, they had bled on the Pentland Hills 
and at Bothwell Bridge. For it, they had wandered 
as fugitives and outcasts on the snow-clad mountains of 
Scotland to escape their pursuers. For it, they had hidden 
in caves, had been pinched with himger, or shivered on 
the barren heath. For it, they had wandered for years in 

IWriKiriul Gurernor iiml FirM U. S. S^iial 

The Early Inhahitants of East Tennessee. 51 

the tiills, followed by baying dogs and the bloody dragoons 
of the cruel Claverhouse. For it, also, they had resisted 
for years the heavy hand of prelacy in their new home in 
Ireland. For its sake, they had quitted their homes in 
Ireland, to escape the exactions and the despotism of the 
British government. They left with no love for England 
in their hearts, and longed for the day of relief, if not of 
vengeance. England had unwittingly prepared a whole 
people for revolt. They were a brave, self reliant race of 
men. The timid and the worthless did not seek the dan- 
gers of the wilderness. It required true manhood to en- 
counter its perils and endure its privations. These men 
were, as a whole, the best citizens this state has ever had, 
not alone in virtue, piety and true manhood, but also in 
intelligence. In proof of this, I refer to the first constitu- 
tion of Tennessee, which Mr. Jefferson pronounced *Hhe 
most republican of all the constitutions adopted by the 
states." This was the work of such historic men as Jack- 
son, Robertson, Tipton, Anderson, Rhea, Roane, Oocke, 
Outlaw, Blount and McMinn. 

Wherever these Covenanters settled in East Tennessee, 
they got possession of the best lands, laid out the towns, 
framed and administered the laws, filled the public offices 
and gradually gathered into their hands the larger part of 
the wealth of the country. So far as I can ascertain the 
first territorial legislature and the *^ Legislative Council'' 
were composed entirely of Covenanters, except John 
Sevier, who was a Huguenot by descent. Judging in the 
same way, at least thirty, and perhaps a much larger num» 
ber, of the fifty-six men who formed our first constitution^ 
were of this same race.^ 

These brave men were everywhere tenacious and jealous 
of their rights. Their most marked trait was their zeal 
for and their earnest devotion to their religion. With 

^ For a more detailed history of the Govenanteis, I refer the reader to 
^The Coyenantory the Cavalier and the Pnritan.'' 

52 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

this was combined an unquenchable love of freedom. 
Their fathers had fought and won the great battle of 
religious liberty in Scotland against the combined power 
of the Anglican Church and the English Orown. They 
left the liberty thus won, through a century of trial 
and suffering, as a rich legacy to mankind. Under the 
providence of God, the world to-day owes its civil and 
religious liberty more to the austere Covenanter of Scot- 
land and to the despised psalm-singing Puritan of England 
than to all other agencies and influences, and quite as 
much to the former as to the latter. And as these Scotch- 
Irish claimed and demanded, and would have freedom of 
conscience for themselves, so, contrary to the spirit and 
practice of the age, they conceded these rights to all others. 
The long centuries of fiery persecutions which they had 
endured, as well as the solemn teachings and doctrines of 
Calvin and Knox, had given to their minds an austere 
bent and a gloomy coloring. With them life was an 
awful reality. It had great duties to be performed. A 
solemn sense of religious obligation was the mainspring 
of every act. Religion with them was the chief end of 
man. It was not a mere form and ceremony. It was an 
eternal reality. Though their religion was somewhat 
gloomy and awful, as viewed from our softer age, it gave 
the sweet hope and peaceful assurance of endless bliss 
hereafter, and thus offered compensation for present trials 
and sufferings. So, these men, when wrapt in the con- 
templation of the awful mysteries of their religion, felt 
within their souls the presence of a great spiritual light, 
cheering and making strong their faith in the final reign 
of righteousness. 

These early inhabitants were farmers, merchants, teach- 
ers and preachers. They were too earnest for a life of 
idleness. Love of country, love of freedom, love of home, 
love of religion, and the desire to build up a pure civiliza- 
tion in their new homes in the forest, all spurred them to 
work. The descendants of the men who had scaled the 

The Early Inhabitants of East Tennessee. 53 

Alleghanies and the Blue Ridge, and hidden themselves in 
the depths of the forests of the Holston, the Watauga and 
the Nolichucky, all for the sake of religious and civil free- 
dom, were not* the kind of men to turn back into a state of 
semi-barbarism . 

Nor were they men of such wealth that they could live 
a life of idleness. The most favored were only in moderate 
circumstances. To work in some form was a necessity. 
On the eastern shore of Virginia^ as we are told by a recent 
writer/ the early planters spent their time in hunting, 
fishing and visiting, and in feasting and frolicking. Those 
on the coast were in the habit of running up a flag 
when a sheepshead was caught.^ This was a signal for all 
those who saw it to come the next day and dine. The 
great heads of families had retinues of slaves, blooded 
horses and packs of hounds. These were the sons of the 
younge/ English nobility or gentry. To work was in their 
estimation degrading to a free citizen. All labor was done 
by slaves. Their houses were at all times open to a gener- 
ous hospitality. The sound of mirth and revelry was con- 
stantly heard. Even the grave and thoughtful Jefferson 
when a young man, like a strolling musician, always car- 
ried with him his violin when visiting or traveling.* 

How dififerent the life led by the first settlers of Tennes- 
see. They lived in plain log houses with pimcheon floors. 
Their fare was of the simplest kind. There were no 
'^Sheephead" dinings. The women carded and spun the 
wool, and wove the web of linsey and jeans, out of which the 
bed-clothing, and the garments for both males and females 
were made. From Monday morning until Saturday after- 
noon, in spring and summer, busy toil and industry filled 
the fleeting hours. But from such nurseries came heroes 
and patriots. Finally, when these people had passed the 
stage of actual want and had reached that of abimdance, 

* " Memoirs of a Sonthem Planter/' by Snsan Dabney Smedes. 

* A delicious fish. ■ " Parton's Life of Jefferson.' 

64 Edst Tennessee cmd the Civil War. 

there remained no longer any high incentive for great ex- 
ertion, for there was no accessible market for their surplus 
products. Had thej looked out on the ocean, or possessed 
a good all-the-year-around navigable river or a railroad, 
the development now taking place in East Tennessee would 
have been commenced nearly a century ago. 

The planters of Virginia were mostly Cavaliers. They 
were the firm supporters of royalty, of titles and distinc- 
tions, and of an established church. From their lofty ele* 
vation they looked down on the poor plebeians, and upon 
all dissenters, with severe contempt. But while they frol- 
icked and feasted, and drank bumpers and made merry, 
there was silently creeping up the great valleys, overleap- 
ing the moimtains, and spreading over the western part of 
the state, that stem, determined, unconquerable and mas- 
terful people who were to overthrow royalty and titles, and 
tithes and an established church, and give liberty and 
equality to all the people of the state. That race was the 
Covenanters, who finally settled East Tennessee. These 
were the people from the * 'Upper Counties," referred to by 
Mr. Jefferson, when speaking of the influence of Patrick 
Henry, during the struggle for independence, when he said 
his ' 'boldness and their votes overawed and controlled the 
more timid aristocratic gentlemen of the lower part of the 
state." ^ 

All the household goods of the first settlers were brought 
across the mountains on pack-horses. There were no roads 
then; only trails or * 'bridle-paths." These articles were 
few and simple. The household affairs of our grand- 
mothers, and even those of the next generation, were ex- 
ceedingly simple. Cooking-stoves, furnaces, pianos, sofas, 
divans, and many of the luxuries, and even the conven- 
iences of modem households, were absolutely unknown. 
She was a proud woman whose simple but clean cupboard 
was graced by rows of bright, shining pewter plates and 

^ Proceedings of the Scotch-Irish Society for 1889, p. 118. 

The Early Inhabitants of East Tennessee. 55 

spoons. Cards for carding wool and flax, a little and a big 
spinning-wheel, and a loom, were as much a necessary part 
of the outfit of every well-to-do housewife as a looking- 
glass and a brush and comb are now. The hackle for 
working flax was also in every house, and the flax-brake 
on every farm. With rare exceptions, everybody — ^both 
men and women, rich and poor — ^wore homespun goods. 
Even General Washington was inaugurated as first Presi- 
dent of the United States in a suit of brown homespun goods. 

All the year around the women were as busy as bees ; 
yes, more so, for the bees rest at **dewy eve," but these 
women did not cease their toil till the midnight hours. 
They were cooking and sewing, carding and spinning, and 
weaving flax and wool for the use of the family, and in 
some cases a surplus for sale. The carpets, blankets, 
sheets, towels, tablecloths and goods for personal attire 
were all, or nearly all, made by the women. And beauti- 
ful, too, were the colors which they wove into their dresses 
and carpets. Emulation and pride made many of them 
experts in dyeing, spinning, and weaving. Each mother 
strove to dress her daughter in a more beautiful garment 
than that of her neighbors' daughters. And the belles of 
those days moved as proudly, and looked as beautifully ar- 
rayed, in the handiwork of their mothers, as do their 
granddaughters now in their silks, satins, and velvets. 
The hickory, the walnut, the sumach, under the intelligent 
touch of the good matron, yielded up their delicate dyes, 
and the indigo and Turkish red lent their brilliant tints. 
Though our grandmothers often had their hands and arms 
blue or brown with dye, in their efforts to make their 
homes beautiful, and to adorn their daughters and hus- 
bands in fine and elegant garments, they were a refined 
and a grand race of women, well worthy of their noble de- 
scendants. Sweet and fragrant and tender forever be their 
memory I 

Let not the proud dames of this generation shake their 
heads at these statements ; for there is scarcely a descend- 

56 E<i8t Tennessee and the Civil War. 

ant of the first settlers in East Tennessee to-day, nor in the 
state, whose grandmother or great-grandmother did not 
card and spin, and probably weave also, and dip her 
hands and arms in the dye-pot, in those early days. It 
was both a necessity and the fashion of the times. And 
they not only spun and wove, but also sewed and made 
garments for their husbands and daughters, and sometimes 
for their sweethearts also.^ Every young lady was expected 
to be able to spin and weave. If not regarded as accom- 
plishments, these were at least indispensable in the domestic 
economy. The spinning-jenny— that great labor-saving 
machine— had not yet been invented, or come into general 
use. Young ladies often vied with each other in friendly 

^ I find this interesting incident, related by the Rev. A. T. Bankin, a Presby- 
terian minister of Greensburg, Indiana, at the dedication of a bronze bust 
and a granite monument to the memory of his father, the Bev. John fiankin, 
at Ripley, Ohio, May 5, 1892, contained in a pamphlet giving an aocount of 
the ceremonies on that occasion. John Rankin married Jean Lowry, a 
daughter of Adam Lowry, of Salem, Washington county. East Tennessee. 
She was the granddaughter of the pioneer preacher and teacher, Samuel 
Doak, the celebrated founder of Washington College, by whom she and 
her husband were both educated. John Rankin was bom in Jefferson 
county, East Tennessee, and became a celebrated AbolitioniBt More will 
be said of him hereafter. 

Mr. A. T. Rankin said of his mother: ''My mother made the coat in 
which my father was married, also the one in which he celebrated the 
golden wedding, and the same busy fingers made the entire outfit in which 
I delivered the valedictory of my class in college. • • • the same hand 
fashioned the clothes in which I did the honors at Lane Seminary, and 
then buttoned up for my own wedding. Though she had nine boys to sew 
for, none went in raiKS." 

Another son, the Rev. S. G. Rankin, said of the same noble Scotch-Irish 
mother, that '' such was her devotion and patriotism for the country's salva* 
tion during the late civil war, that she said to me, as I was on my way down 
to the Cumberland : * Samuel, you will see Arthur on your way 7 ' ' Yes,' I 
replied, 'have you any message for him?' ' Yes, tell him he is the only 
one left, and I only hold him as a reserve. As soon as he hears of a break 
in the lines, tell him to step into the gap. God be with him, and I will 
take care of his children.' " Never Spartan mother spoke nobler words ! 

While this noble woman was sending eight sons and one grandson to the 
front, holding one as a reserve, her kinsman, Robert H. McEwen, and his 
wife, kept the national flag floating over their house in Nashville during 
the entire war. If pulled down, they put it up again. 

The Early Inhabitants of East Tennessee. 57 

rivalry, as to which should spin the greatest number of 
**cut8" in a day. Bound and round went the whizzing, 
singing wheel from early mom until late at night. With 
lithe and graceful forms, with elastic steps, and with glow- 
ing cheeks and flashing eyes, they sped back and forth 
drawing out the long attenuated thread, while the swift, 
whirling wheel made music for the household. Thus many 
a belle of matchless form and beauty, all radiant with the 
fresh bloom of young womanhood, beguiled the long, 
weary winter hours in healthful toil. 

Those were hard days for women, yet they were not un- 
happy. From Monday morning until Saturday night, 
busy toil and industry kept step with the passing hours. 

When Sunday morning came, a solemn stillness ushered 
it in and marked the day. Each Covenanter house became 
a miniature Sabbath school. Bible reading, studying the 
catechism, singing psalms, and attending divine service by 
the whole family, however remote the place of worship, 
occupied the day. All secular pursuits were interdicted 
and ceased. Everywhere a solemn sanctity and religious 
awe attached to the Sabbath. It can not be denied that 
the austere manners of these people gave a severe and 
gloomy tinge to their mental and moral nature. But these 
homes were the nurseries of noble men and lovely women. 
In many a house in East Tennessee the touching scenes of 
Bums' "Cotter's Saturday Night" were repeated in those 
days, when '^the saint, the father and the husband" in- 
voked the Divine blessing on the family. 

The Sabbath still holds its place among them as a holy 
day, notwithstanding the tendency of the times to weaken 
its hold on the hearts and minds of men. It is unneces- 
sary to say that these people have always been brave and 
daring. History attests this fact, from King's Mountain 
down to the late civil war. Every war, and nearly every 
battle-field, have witnessed their valor. Patriotism is more 
than a sentiment ; it is a part of their being. They love 
their country — ^their own locality — ^because it is their home 

58 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

and their possession. Each man feels that the country is 
in part his own. 

These people became exceedingly fond of political dis- 
cussions. In proof of this, I copy the following from the 
Atlantic Monthly ^ edited by James Russell Lowell, for Au- 
gust, 1870, taken from the journal or diary of Lucian 
Minor, a Virginian. It was written from Rogersville, 
Tennessee, November 29, 1823. After telling about stop- 
ping at a little inn in that town, kept by ex-Gtovernor Mc- 
Minn, and how he went * 'bustling about the tavern, at 
once as landlord, barkeeper and head waiter, administer- 
ing entertainment to guests of every degree,*' Mr. Minor 
said of the people of East Tennessee : 

* *This is indeed a country where the democratic spirit of 
liberty and equality prevails to the utmost extent. I 
already see, or think I see, a bolder j loftier carriage in ordi- 
dinary men. Everyone seems to feel himself an efficient 
member of the body politic. No free male citizen being 
excluded from a vote in the choice of law-givers and gov- 
ernors, everyone takes an interest in the acts of those pub- 
lic servants, and you hear proceedings of the legislature 
and other political matters canvassed by men whose ap- 
pearance would, amongst us, bespeak them both unknow- 
ing and careless of the most important public concerns. 
It would surprise you to see the warm and active feelings 
of these people in regard to the presidential election. Of 
the Louisa (his home in Virginia) people, I believe not a 
tenth part, even of the freeholders, have yet bestowed a 
thought or expressed a wish on the subject. In Tennessee 
every heart is roused, every tongue is busy; old and 
young, male and female, all look anxiously forward to the 
result ; all wish, and would fight for (if need be) , the suc- 
cess of Jackson. Never, surely, were a people so nearly 
unanimous. The citizens of Sevier county met the other 
day to express their sentiments and adopt resolutions in 
favor of their hero, when there were for Clay 3, for Craw- 

The Early InhahUwnis of East Tennessee. 59 

ford 2, for Adams 1, for Calhoun none, for Jackson be* 
tween 600 and 700." 

And yet so independent were these people of Sevier 
<50unt7, that, in 1840, when their favorite of 1823, Gen- 
eral Jackson, tried to force Van Buren on them for Presi- 
dent, that they indignantly repudiated him, and voted 
nearly unanimously for Gteneral Harrison. They admired 
Jackson because many of them had fought under him in 
1812-1814, but they firmly refused to yield to his dictation. 
In fact, great independence of thought has always char- 
acterized the people of East Tennessee. When they have 
once informed themselves in reference to either political 
or religious questions, and become satisfied as to the right 
or wrong involved, no power on earth can move them from 
their mature convictions. No higher illustration of the 
firmness of these people can be found in the political annals 
of any people than the tenacity with which they clung to the 
Union through all the dark days of the late Civil War,* 
though deserted by the rest of the state, and by many of 
their leaders. They stood almost as a compact body, los- 
ing only a few from their ranks. 

More than once in the course of this narrative I have 
said that the early inhabitants of East Tennessee were a 
religious people. The next generation inherited from them 
this trait of character This feeling was manifest in their 
fondness for religious controversy. The day of actual re- 
ligious warfare had gone. The day of peaceable contro- 
versy had come. The conscience was no longer to be con- 
vinced by the sword, the rack, or the thumb-screw, but by 
the force of argument. Persecution had gone forever. In 
its stead came gentle toleration. But men might still 
war in words, over creeds, dogmas, and forms of worship. 
Down to within the last forty years the churches of the 

^ In Febmaryy 1861, in the election ordered by the legislature, when the 
question was, not in words, but in substance, secession or no secession, these 
people of Sevier county voted unanimously against secession. Perhaps no 
county in the Union has such a record as that. 

60 East Tennessee and the Civil Wax. 

country rang with the clangor of hostile controversy, and 
the religious press teemed with bitter sectarian literature. 
This was perhaps especially so in this region. Sabbath 
after Sabbath the Methodists poured forth denunciations 
of **election and predestination." Week after week, from 
Presbyterian pulpits, the doctrines of the Methodists were 
hammered, ridiculed and laid bare to public inspection. 
From the press came forth cart-loads of pamphlets and 
books on the respective sides. Now and then a Baptist 
champion would stand forth, and challenge the world to 
a discussion of the doctrines of immersion and adult bap- 
tism. The sermons in those days were long and dry, and 
generally of a doctrinal character. The people were 
fond of these discussions. Nothing pleased them so much 
as to hear their ministers launch their thunder-bolts of 
argument, sarcasm, and ridicule, and even hate, against 
other sects. 

But I am not sure that these controversies, after all, 
bitter as they sometimes were, did much harm. They 
quickened the public mind. They set it to thinking and 
reading. Anything is better than mental or spiritual stag* 
nation. Under a quickening influence of these contro- 
versies, and the vast amount of information given to the 
public by them, the people of East Tennessee became bet- 
ter posted as to theological doctrines and religious history 
than any other i>eople of similar development. A fact, 
not sufficiently noticed, heretofore, contributed to this pro- 
ficiency in and fondness for religious, as well as political, 
discussions. This was the leisure of the people. Previous 
to the time of the entrance of railroads, about 1861, there 
was but little commerce or trade with the outside world. 
There were virtually no manufactures. There was no 
bustle, no rush, no excitement in business. Men had 
leisure for thought and contemplation. Attending church 
and camp-meetings was a pleasant pastime as well as a sol- 
emn religious duty. With a commercial, or manufactur- 
ing, or a busy people, such things are impossible, except 

The Early InhabitarUa of East Tennessee. 61 

on the Sabbath. For the same reason, attending political 
discussions and talking politics were always common. The 
people were not pressed for time ; they had ample leisure 
and came to delight in political meetings. Gteneral Jack- 
son early became a candidate for the Presidency. He was 
hot-headed, and made the state a boiling cauldron of po- 
litical excitement. Politicians and people alike were 
stirred by this imperial, tempestuous man. All turned to 
talking politics. And so it has ever continued to be. 
Wherefore it came about, that the people of East Ten- 
nessee were in political and religious intelligence far above 
what might have been expected from the general condition 
of education in the state. 

62 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 



East TennesBee described — A long valley sarroanded by monntaiiifi — ^Valley 
three-fourths of area^-Mental and moral condition of the valley peo- 
pie — Colleges and academiea— Churches— People turn to religion— The 
Sabbath and Sunday schools— People of the valley— Vindicated against 
misrepresentations — An excellent population — Superior to many of 
their neighbors in culture— The great mountain region lying beyond 
the valley— Testimony as to the character of the people. 

The people of East Tennessee * are usually spoken of by 
writers as a "mountain people." The designation, as 
generally applied and understood, is misleading. It is 
true that a part of them are a moimtain people, but the 
larger part, strictly speaking, are not. To understand this 
statement, I must explain. 

East Tennessee is a valley about three hundred miles in 
length, with an average width of fifty or sixty miles, lying 
between two high mountain ranges. It is separated from 
Gleorgia and North Carolina by the Alleghanies, sometimes 
called the **Blue Ridge,'' and from Virginia and Kentucky 
by the Cumberland Range. Inside of the state line, on 
the northern and the southern borders, with considerable 
exceptions, there is a rim or border of mountains, varying 
in width from three to fifteen miles. On the western side, 
the Cumberland, which separates East from Middle Ten- 
nessee, swells out into a large plateau, forty or fifty miles 
wide On the south, these mountains are exceedingly 
high, varying from three to six thousand feet. On the 

^ The terms " East Tennessee," '' Middle Tennessee " and ** West Tennes- 
see ** are recognized by the constitution and the laws of the state, as con- 
stituting grand divisions thereof, with well defined natural boundaries. 
East Tennessee is separated from Middle Tennessee by the Cumberland 
Mountains, and the latter from West Tennessee by the Tennessee Biver. 

The Present Inhabitants of East Tennessee^ etc. 63 

north, they are from three to four thousand feet high. 
For the most part, this border or rim is separated from the 
lowlands by steep mountains, and, in some cases, by pre- 
cipitous walls. 

The region lying beyond these mountain walls, but in- 
side of the state lines, is clearly a mountain country. But 
this region constitutes only a small part of East Tennessee. 
A gentleman of intelligence,^ who visits every county once 
a year, estimates that this mountain rim, including the 
Cumberland Plateau in East Tennessee, is about equal to 
one-fourth the area of the whole region of East Tennessee, 
and at most not equal to one-third. Another gentleman,* 
who had occasion to investigate this very question some 
years ago, estimates that this mountain region is about 
one-fifth of the territory of East Tennessee. 

The people dwelling in the territory above the valley are 
a genuine mountain race. But one, going among them, 
expecting to see wild, imcivilized savages, would surely be 
disappointed. He would not find much education, it is 
true, nor many material comforts. He would discover a 
low state of general intelligence, and, in some localities, a 
deplorable state of morals. But this is not the general, 
and certainly not the universal, condition. On the con- 
trary, a majority of the people have due respect for the 
Sabbath, love the Bible, regularly attend church and the 
Sunday school, and outwardly observe in their humble 
walks the common decencies and proprieties of civilized 
life. Among the better classes, baseness and immorality 
are condemned and discoimtenanced. With a large ma- 
jority, marriage vows and contracts are regarded as sacred. 
There are but few divorce suits in the courts, perhaps 
fewer than in the towns and cities in more advanced so- 
ciety. Honesty, in a partial sense, is not only inculcated 
and revered, but, in many cases, the higher and more 
delicate rules that bind society together by the ties of honor 

* Rev. Isaac Emory. * Rev. John F. Spence, D.D. 

64 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

are likewise observed. This is gradually lifting the people 
up to a condition where noble sentiment takes the place of 
ignorant force. Indictments for theft, robbery, arson and 
burglary are rare, and, even for lewdness and adultery, far 
from common. Murder, however, is very frequent. 

It is not surprising that there is much ignorance and 
considerable immorality in these mountain districts. The 
state has done but little to aid the people in educational 
facilities. Until within the last thirty years it gave them 
but little assistance. And even now the sum devoted to 
this purpose, arising from state and county appropriations, 
amoimts to very little in sparsely-settled communities. 
Often in such communities the school-house is so distant 
from many of the families that their children almost inevi- 
tably grow up in ignorance. Even where the population 
is more dense the school fund is not sufficient to keep the 
public schools open, upon an average, more than from three 
to four months in the year. Limited as are the advantages 
afforded by these schools for acquiring a good education, 
they are nevertheless doing great good. They are lights 
set on a hill. This generation is being educated far be- 
yond those of the past. In these schools many a bright 
boy or girl is catching the spirit of education, and will be 
impelled by it to seek elsewhere for higher advantages. 
And thus education and knowledge are growing and 
spreading from year to year through the mountain re- 

But these pec^le need help in the way of better educa- 
tional facilities. They need a college on the Cumberland 
Mountains, in Scott or Morgan county, for the benefit of 
the boys and girls of that partially destitute region. An 
industrial school, similar to the one so successfully con- 
ducted at or near Asheville, is sorely needed for the girls 
of that mountain region. 

For at least a small part of each year many of the 
bright mountain boys and girls are now engaged in learn- 
ing the rudiments of a common English education. In 

The Present InhahitanU of East Termessee^ etc. 65 

1891, in passing from Cranberry to Linville, in western 
North Carolina, through the highest range of mountains, 
I was astonished at suddenly coming upon a fair sized 
two-story brick college building, handsomely painted, 
with comfortable new houses surroimding it, and at seeing 
about one hundred or more young ladies and gentlemen, 
pupils in^this college, fair, ruddy and bright looking, as well 
dressed as village people generally are, engaged in playing 
games on the lawn, it being recess hour. And such sights 
as this can be seen at other places in these mountains. 
Indeed, only a few miles from this place, in Carter county, 
the extreme eastern part of Tennessee, in a spot of marvelous 
beauty, is situated Milligan College. The site of this insti- 
tution has an altitude of about four thousand feet. A more 
enchanting spot can not be foimd in all this wonderful 
region of beauty and sublimity. The college has from 
seven to nine professors and instructors, with an attend- 
ance of about two himdred students, girls and boys. 

And in the same mountain country, about twenty miles 
distant, at a place called Butler, there is another flourish- 
ing institution of learning, called Holly Spring's College, 
situated on the banks of the beautiful Watauga River. 
This college has an enrollment of two hundred young men 
and women. Thus, in the midst of this great mountain 
region, the wildest in Tennessee, or western North Caro- 
lina, within a radius of twenty-five or thirty miles, are 
situated three chartered colleges, one in North Carolina 
and two in Tennessee, with an aggregate enrollment of 
froi^ five to six hundred scholars. 

Nor is this all. In the next county, north (Sullivan) , 
at Bristol, King's College is situated, an institution of de- 
served popularity, with an enrollment of about two hun- 
dred scholars. About forty miles south-west from Bristol 
and Holly Springs is situated Washington College. Then 
fifteen miles further west, in Greene county, is Greene- 
ville-Tusculum College. The two latter are both very 

66 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

flourishing schools and the oldest institutions of learning 
in the state. 

It thus appears that there are six prosperous colleges in 
this small section of country, three of them literally in the 
mountains, and the other three near them and almost un- 
der their shadow, and all but one in the eastern half of 
the First Congressional District. I take no note of the 
academies to be found in every county and in nearly every 
town. These remarkable facts show that this whole moun- 
tain region is keenly alive to the great question of education. 

Before the school house had appeared in these mountains, 
the modest church edifice had arisen in nearly every thickly 
settled neighborhood. At regular periods the faithful 
Methodist circuit rider comes along to look after his little 
flock. On an eminence overlooking a rapidly flowing 
mountain stream there stands also the plain edifice, in 
which the Baptists weekly worship. The good man who 
ministers here week after week, labors to build up his con- 
gregation in the faith of his sect. Occasionally, too a 
Presbyterian evangelist or missionary comes along, and 
presents the gospel to such persons as can be gathered to- 
gether on short notice. And sometimes too, though infre- 
quently, the way is opened for a Presbyterian Church, 
and one is seen to arise in the solitude of these mountains. 

And thus all over these highlands. Sabbath after Sabbath, 
the voices of sincere praise, supplication and thanksgiving 
ascend as grateful incense to heaven. No great, costly organs 
send forth their deep-toned notes, rising and swelling on 
the mountain stillness, and then sinking into a whisper. 
But from these lofty places of worship, the voices of 
humble worshipers are heard, in praise and thanksgiving, 
breathing the very spirit of devotion. These children of 
the mountain sing as the birds sing — they sing from the 
heart. It is nature's outburst of joy, ecstasy and triumph. 
No cold formality restrains these humble worshipers. 

And since distilleries have in a large measure disap- 
peared; since quiltings, log rollings, musters, shooting 

The Present Inhabiianta of East Tennessee^ etc. 67 

matches, dances and frolics are becoming rarer and rarer 
in these mountains, more sober and weightier matters now 
occupy the minds of the people. Men must have some- 
thing on which to expend the vast and ever-accumulating 
reserve of energy and life wrapped up within them. If 
these find vent in innocent amusements and sports, it is 
well. But far better, if in a simple primitive and emo- 
tional religion is found the satisfaction demanded by the 
bounding force of nature. In this very mode, because 
no other alluring object stands in the way, because no 
tempting, fleeting pleasure attracts them aside, a whole 
people may turn to religion, and find in it a peace and a 
satisfaction suitable to their mental condition. Such cer- 
tainly is the tendency of these mountain people. Every- 
thing around them leads to reverence and worship. The 
simplest savage perceives in the rushing river, in the dark, 
gathering tempest, the flashing lightning, the thunder of 
the clouds, and in the great mountains uplifted to the 
skies, the evidence of almighty power. In nature's 
sublime presence, he is filled with fear and awe. Much 
more would a people of traditional piety, such as these are, 
be filled with the spirit of reverence amid such awe-inspir- 
ing scenes. I know not accurately how far history bears 
testimony to the truth of this theory, but logically, all 
high mountain peoples ought to be more spiritually in- 
clined than those dwelling in the plains. The elastic 
buoyancy of the atmosphere, as well as the grandeur of 
the scenery, tend to a high moral and mental exaltation. 
Solitude also tends to elevate the mind. In the absence of 
the entertainments and the amusements common in cities 
and towns, men naturally turn to the Church, to the Sunday 
school, to the Bible, or inwardly to their own minds for en- 
tertainment. In these mountains the theater and the 
lecture-room, card parties and receptions, dinings and 
germans, clubs and Christian associations, libraries and read- 
ing-rooms, and many kinds of charitable entertainments, 

68 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

do not absorb the time and keep the people in a rush all 
the year around. 

In the absence of most of the popular amusements of 
cities, it would be strange if religion were not the highest 
and the first concern of the better class of such a people. 
So, it certainly is. And since religion and education are 
fast gaining ground with these people, it may be safely 
affirmed that civilization has firmly planted its feet on our 
mountain tops, and that henceforth it will march apace 
with its advancing development in other quarters. 

Descending from this high mountain region, we enter a 
country totally unlike that I have been describing. This 
is the valley of East Tennessee. Through this valley flow 
the many beautiful rivers with their crystal waters which 
debouch from the mountains of North Carolina and Vir- 
ginia, and flowing westwardly unite in this state, forming 
the graceful Tennessee. The people dwelling in this val- 
ley constitute about five-sixths of the population of East 
Tennessee; in other words, the moimtain population is 
about one out of every five or six of the entire population. 

This valley region is no more like the region I have just 
described, or that of Northern Georgia, or Western North 
Carolina, or South-eastern Kentucky, and a large part of 
South-west Virginia, than it is like Colorado. The utmost 
that can be said is, that it is a hill or an upland country. 
Its physical aspects (shutting our eyes against the great 
mountains which wall in this enchanting valley) are very 
similar to large districts of country to be found in Penn- 
sylvania, New York, Virginia, and Missouri. To the 
grand mountain scenery, everywhere meeting the eyes of 
the tourist passing through this lovely valley, is to be 
added the charm of the clear, sparkling, rushing streams, 
as they flow down through the green hills, and waving 
fields, and verdant pastures. At every turn of his course, 
he will see scenes of quiet beauty, or of startling grandeur, 
such as fill the mind with dreamy reveries, or fire it with 
lofty thoughts. J 

The Present Inhabitants of East Tennessee^ etc. 69 

The inhabitants of this region lying in between these 
great mountains should appropriately be called the valley 
people or the people of the plain. The whole valley, how- 
ever, is greatly elevated above the sea level. From the 
point where the Tennessee River passes out of the state 
into Alabama to the extreme eastern point on the White 
Mountain, there is a constant ascent. Shellmound, near 
where the river passes out of the state, is 636 feet above 
the sea ; Chattanooga, 670 feet ; Knoxville, nearly 1,000 
feet; Greeneville, 1,585 feet; Bristol, 1,780 feet; and 
Mountain City, nearly 3,000 Jeet. High a^ this is, it is 
perhaps fifteen hundred or two thousand feet below the 
average of the mountains which encircle the valley. Nor 
is it nearly so elevated nor half so wild as Western North 
Carolina and parts of South-west Virginia. 

In one sense the people dwelling in this region are 
mountain people ; that is, they live in constant sight of 
these great mountains. From the cradle to the grave they 
breathe the pure air wafted down from their summits, 
they feel the inspiration caused by their ever majestic 
stillness and awful presence, and they imbibe the spirit of 
the wonderful scenes surrounding them. So they become 
thereby larger, better, braver men and women. The 
farmer as he sits on his piazza, in the cool of the summer's 
evening smoking his pipe, sees away off in the distance the 
form of these blue mountains lifted up in mighty outline 
against the sky. He sees the dark clouds swelling up the 
mountain sides and gathering into a storm as they sweep 
along the summit. At night he gazes upon the lightning 
as it leaps and plays on these lofty heights. From every 
high eminence, in East Tennessee, these mountains loom 
up into view. The farmer, as he plows in his field, or 
rides into the nearest village, or drives to church on the 
Sabbath, looking up, beholds in the distance these same 
great peaks which he gazed upon in his boyhood, now as 
then, so still, so lonely, so solemn. Such are the sur- 
roundings of the people of East Tennessee. 

70 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

Now, as to the mental and moral peculiarities of the 
people themselves. Writers in the North and the South, 
losing sight of the difference I have pointed out between 
the valley of East Tennessee and the great mountain 
region surrounding it, often represent the people of this 
region as being ignorant, immoral, intemperate, and law- 
less. They are frequently spoken of as **the poor whites 
of the South;'' sometimes as ^'the mountain whites of 
the South." 

So far as these names and descriptions apply to the 
people of East Tennessee dwelling in the valley, they are 
largely baseless, the result of the grossest ignorance, or of 
deliberate intention at misrepresentation. People who 
thus write draw no distinction between those dwelling 
in this valley and those beyond it. The difference is 
marked and manifest. The people of this valley are not, 
and never have been, as they are sometimes represented 
to be. 

It is so easy and perhaps so natural for sensational 
writers to take exceptional or rare characters and clothe 
them with fictitious and exaggerated qualities, and then 
present them to the public as representatives of whole 
communities or districts of country, that we should not be 
surprised at such things. Such representations are taken 
to be true by those who never saw the originals, and yet 
they are often gross caricatures. The more extreme and 
grotesque these representations, the more sensational 
they are. No better illustration of the truth of all this 
can be found than in the accounts usually published con- 
cerning the '' mountain whites of the South." No such 
people, as a community or as a whole, anywhere exists in 
this vast region. There are exceptional characters and 
cases, and there are exceptional neighborhoods, to which 
these descriptions may in a qualified sense apply, but 
when applied to the people of the whole section, or to the 
people as a whole, they are gross exaggerations and mis- 
representations. They are especially false when applied 

The Present Inhabitants of East Tennessee^ etc. 71 

to the people of the yalley of East Tennessee. As a rule, 
these people of the yalley are equal, in most of the leading 
qualities that constitute a good population, to the average 
citizens of any section. In virtue, integrity and religion, 
they can safely challenge a comparison with the citizens of 
the most advanced states. There are some exceptional 
neighborhoods in certain counties of which this is not true. 
But the general rule is as I state it. 

I appeal to facts. Let it be kept in mind that the first 
settlers of East Tennessee were an educated people and 
the friends of education. Several years before the close 
of the eighteenth century, as previously shown, they had 
put three colleges into successful operation. Since that 
time colleges and universities have gone on increasing 
until there are now fifteen or sixteen within our limits. 
Besides these there are many academies and high schools. 
In common schools, in colleges, in Sunday schools, in 
temperance reforms, in church work, in agricultural and 
manufacturing development, the valley of East Tennessee, 
as statistics show, is quite abreast of the other divisions 
of the state. 

The people living in the valley are superior, very much 
superior, in intelligence, civilization, wealth and general 
advancement to the inhabitants living in the high moun- 
tain regions of Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia and 
Kentucky. This great mountain uplift, as I have shown, 
lies for the most part beyond and outside of East Tennes- 
see. Here is the great distinction that is constantly over- 
looked by those writing about this region. No distinction 
is ever drawn between the inhabitants of the picturesque, 
fertile and beautiful valley of East Tennessee and those of 
the wild mountain region encircling it. And this wild 
mountain region is the one that tourists delight to describe. 
The scenery is nearly as grand and picturesque as that of 
Colorado. This whole region, including the valley, is full 
of thrilling historical incidents of the Revolution, of King's 
Mountain, of Daniel Boone, John Sevier, James Robertson, 

72 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

Isaac Shelby, William Campbell, John Tipton and of 
Andrew Jackson. Here are the historic streams — ^the 
Watauga, the Holston and the Nolichucky— on whose 
banks western civilization was first planted. Here was 
the cradle of the state. And here was enacted at an early 
day its most thrilling history. It is full of Indian legends 
and traditions. These give ample scope and material for 
the fertile imagination of tourists and letter writers, for 
northern newspapers and illustrated periodicals. Writers 
of romance, with genius and fervid imagination, like 
Charles Egbert Craddock, find in this region a people 
scarcely known to those of us familiar with it from our 
infancy. Writers, too, like the author of the pamphlet 
entitled **The Mountain Whites of the South," whose 
motive was good, portray the inhabitants in such colors as 
to amount almost to a slander. 

In answer to such representations, as are often made by 
writers for Northern papers, the Rev. D. Atkins, of the 
Methodist Episcopal Church, South, published a letter in 
the * 'Christian Union," of December 31, 1892, from which 
I make some extracts. Mr. Atkins stands deservedly 
high where he is known. I copy from the * 'Baltimore 
Sun" : 

. • . "As a Methodist minister," he says, **I have 

gone into the most out of the way places, and mingled 
freely with all sorts of people in twenty counties of North 
Carolina and Virginia and in nearly all the worst parts of 
East Tennessee. I have visited these people at their 
homes, have eaten with them, slept in their houses and 
seen them in every condition." Yet Mr. Atkins never be- 
held the slum scenes Mrs. Paddock described in a recent 
number of the ** Christian Union." **Your correspond- 
ent," he said, ''must have found some secluded spot I 
never saw ; for in all my travels I never saw the things 
she writes of, and it seems strange that I should not even 
have heard of such things in jill these years. There is 
poverty here and ignorance too, but neither is in that 

The Present Inhabitants of East Tennessee j etc. 73 

prevalent form you would suppose from the article of Mrs. 
Paddock." . . • 

The following is an extract from a letter written by Mr. 
M. L., for the ** Washington Star," of November 17, 1893 : 

[Written for "The Evening Star: "] 

**An interesting article appears in the 'Star* of the 
7th inst. , purporting to give results of observations by Dr. 
J. H. Porter, while prosecuting scientific researches among 
the Southern AUeghanies. Some popular fallacies are ex- 
posed, while others more hurtful are reiterated. I was 
bom and reared among these same mountains, and as 
school teacher, timber agent, special deputy collector, and 
special examiner for the bureau of pensions, have had 
ample opportunity to study the natives, and know fairly 
well their peculiarities of belief, vernacular and habits. 
There is scarcely a section, however remote, in western 
North Carolina, East Tennessee, South-western Virginia 
and South-eastern Kentucky with which I ain not familiar 
with every crpss-roads and by paths. 

. . • '*The men of the mountains do use whiskey — 
that is, some of them — ^but a careful comparison justifies 
the statement that a vastly smaller proportion are addicted 
to its use, or abuse, than in the cities of the South else- 
where. . . . Habitual drunkenness is looked upon by 
the mountain people as a great disgrace, and the use of 
whiskey for other than medicinal purposes is regarded as 
groimd sufficient for the expulsion of the offender from 
almost any church.'* . . . 

*'The popular belief on this point" (education) '*is quite 
misleading. Among the older people signing by mark 
is too common. They had little opportunity to acquire 
education. They; or their fathers, were pioneers of the 
mountains. They cleared the forests, built roads, erected 
rude structures for worship, and were kept hard at work 
to keep the wolf from the door. • • . There are few 
of the younger generation who can not read and write ^ 

74 Eaet Tennessee and the Civil War. 

and 'cipher, too.' There are few young men, especially in 
the mountains of East Tennessee, who have not mastered 
the rudiments of English grammar and the common-school 
arithmetic. For the latter they seem to have particular 
aptitude. A large percentage of them have a fair knowl- 
edge of algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and some of them 
would give Yale and Harvard graduates points on integral 
and differential calculus and idiomatic Latin and Greek. 
In one of the wildest sections of that whole mountain re- 
gion, of my personal knowledge, nine young men have taken 
classical courses — ^three of them at Yale. They did not 
belong to families above the average, and literally worked 
their way through college. Some of them took high rank 
in their classes ; none of them were below the average." * 
Fortunately, there is much evidence from the most reli- 
able sources on these points. The latest is that of Dr. W. 
C. Gray, the able editor of that widely-circulated religious 
paper, **The Interior," of Chicago. He has recently (Octo- 
ber and November, 1897,) been traveling through parts of 
the mountain regions of Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee and 
North Carolina, studying with care the habits, language 
and condition of the native population. In his paper of 
October 28th, there is a letter of his from Cumberland 
Gap, from which I make some extracts. The Rev. A. A. 
Myers, referred to in this letter, has been a missionary for 
thirty-three years in the mountain region of Kentucky, 
Tennessee and Virginia, and during that time he and his 
faithful wife have erected forty-four public buildings for 
educational or religious purposes. He is now president of 
''Harrow School," at Cumberland Gap. Dr. Gray studied 
these mountain people by going among them, visiting them 
in their little homes, and by talking to them on every-day 
topics. I gladly avail myself of his evidence, as it con- 
firms my statements, and also one of my theories : 

^ As to education, I think the statements of this writer are a little too 
strong and general. 

The Present Inhabitants of East Termesseej etc. 75 

'^I was expecting an interesting philological study of the 
mountain dialect attributed to this people by Miss Mur- 
frees (Charles Egbert Oraddock) and by her imitator, the 
Eev. Dr. William Barton, of Boston; but I could not 
catch a word of it in the cabins nor on the mountain trails. 
Their speech is the only true English there is in that of 
the middle belt which extends between New England and 
the South, and which is occupied by New Jersey, Pennsyl- 
vania, Ohio, the Middle West, old North-west, and on to 
the Pacific. A Britisher can not speak English, nor a 
Yankee, nor a Southerner. I never heard English, the 
genuine article, spoken by any man who was not a Scotch- 
Irishman, or some one to whom he had taught the lan- 
guage. ... I talked also with a mountaineer, who was 
all patches and tags, and was surprised by his shrewdness. 
^One good judge,' he said, ^can make more Christians than 
a heap of preachers.' *Qood citizens, you mean,' I an- 
swered ; *you do not mean that the enforcement of good 
laws will make good Christians.' 'Well,' he said, *I 
didn't say good Christians ; I said Christians. Christians 
are as different as persimmons. Some are sweet and mel- 
ler, and some are hard and puckery, and it 'pears like 
they stay so. I'll tell you how it goes among our people. 
Get a judge that '11 jerk 'em, and they '11 quit shootin' and 
bummin' ; and then, because they have nowhere else to go, 
they '11 go into the churches. They 've got to go some- 
where, and when they kayn't get * 'moonshine" they '11 get 
religion.' There is sense in that remark I 

*' . . . On our return home at supper, I said to Dr. 
Myers that I was disappointed in not hearing the moun- 
tain dialect. 'There is no such thing,' he said with some 
warmth. 'Why, Miss Murfrees and her imitator, Dr. Bar- 
ton, have made their fortune out of it. It must be some- 
where,' I answered. 'It is nowhere,' said Mr. Myers. 'I 
am familiar with every nook of these ranges, three hun- 
dred miles north and south, and I never heard it, and no 
one ever did. What they have done is to pick up odd and 

76 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

ignorant characters and set them up as types of our peo- 
ple. It has done us a great deal of harm among Northern 
people.' " 

In a subsequent letter, written in North Carolina, Dr. 
Graj gives some of the distinguishing characteristics of the 
mountain people, as follows : 

**Now, a word about these mountaineers in general. 
They are not the *poor whites' of the South — the waste of 
the white population of the slave states. They are as un- 
like them as distinct races. They have the usual charac- 
teristics of mountaineers — ^independent, passionately de- 
voted to liberty, hardy, brave, and so attached to their 
mountains that they would rather live in poverty there 
than in wealth in the cities, or even in the plains. • . . 

^'And yet the women of this class are passionately de- 
sirous for the education of their children, and, through 
education, for the betterment of their condition, which is 
simply one of arrested progress. • . . The old long- 
ing for education bursts into a flame when schools are 
reachable ; and, as I have said, the family Bible and the 
pastor's prayer are cherished as they are not among us. 
The men are slender, wiry and usually tall. The women 
are good looking, some of them beautiful." . . . 

Hon. Eben Alexander, late minister to Greece, formerly 
professor of Greek in the University of Tennessee, now 
filling the same chair in the University of North Carolina, 
a good many years ago, wrote a communication for one of 
the New York papers, in which he discussed the dialect 
given to the mountain people of Tennessee by Miss Mur- 
frees. He declared that he had never heard such a dialect 
spoken. Prof. Alexander, for a number of years, was in 
the habit of spending a part of each vacation in traveling 
and fishing in the Smoky Mountains, where Miss Mur- 
frees found the peculiar language she puts into the mouth 
of her characters. 

In a late number of the *'Knoxville Journal," edited by 
Captain William Kule, commenting on a communication 

The Present Inhabitants of East Tennessee, etc. 77 

recently published, as reported in the *'New York Inde- 
pendent,'' that paper said : 

*'The 'Journal' took occasion to observe, yesterday morn- 
ing, that, in the wide range of subjects discussed in the 
press in these latter days, more ignorance is manifested by 
the average man or woman who pretends to write either 
fact or fiction about the mountain people of this section , 
than upon almost any other subject imaginable. The 
country has a goodly number of penny-a-liners who make 
pin money by grossly exaggerating the weaknesses of these 
mountain people, or by inventing lies about them and get- 
ting them printed wherever they can get pay for their mis- 
erable stuflf. The writer of the paragraphs above quoted 
is either an ignoramus or an unmitigated falsifier. 

"The statement that there are 400,000 children of south- 
em highlanders who have no chance to acquire an educa- 
tion is unqualifiedly false, as the writer might have seen 
had he taken time to consult the census reports before he 
wrote his slanderous article. It is a fact that there is 
more ignorance, infinitely more vice, more degradation, 
more people who never saw a Bible, more of everything 
that is loathsome in men and women and children, in 
sight of the Trinity Church spire in the great city of New 
York, than there are in all the mountain counties of East 
Tennessee, Western North Carolina, Virginia and Kentucky 
combined." . . . 

So far as the people of the mountains of East Tennessee 
are concerned, there is no question as to the fact that letter 
writers and tourists have greatly misrepresented and slan- 
dered them. From my earliest recollection, I have known 
and seen much of these people. I have traveled among 
them, have practiced law and held courts in a number of 
the so-called mountain counties; I have slept in their 
houses and eaten at their tables more or less for over fifty 
years, and I think, from unusual opportunities of seeing 
these people, that I know a good deal about them, about 
their condition, about their state of morals, intelligence 

78 East Tennessee and (he Civil War. 

and general civilization. From my own observation and 
knowledge, I do not hesitate to bear unequivocal testimony 
as to the general truthfulness of the statements contained in 
the foregoing extracts. There is considerable vice, drunk- 
enness and illiteracy ; but these are fast disappearing. To 
say that these are universal, is unjust as well as untrue. 
In point of morals, religion and the observance of the laws 
of the land, it is really surprising how advanced they are, 
when we consider their remoteness from the civilizing and 
refining influences that lift up and educate a people. I 
can only account for the qualified moral tone existing 
among them, their general observance of the Sabbath, their 
regard for chastity and honesty, and their respectable 
sense of good faith and fair dealing, by remembering that 
they are the descendants of the educated and the severely 
moral and religious Covenanters who first settled East 
Tennessee, the seeds of whose teachings and the example 
of whose lives even a century of isolation, poverty and 
neglect have not entirely destroyed. 

Another reason why these mountain people of East Ten- 
nessee are in advance of their neighbors, dwelling in sim- 
ilar regions in adjoining states in all the ways and arts of 
civilization, may be found in the fact that they live so near 
their neighbors in the valley below. The intercourse be- 
tween them is so constant and easy that the inhabitants 
above are gradually growing into the habits and ideas of 
those below. So, with the wonderful progress they have 
made in the last thirty years in education and civilization, 
these mountaineers are rapidly approximating the condi- 
tion of the valley people. 

Keeping in mind the difference I have pointed out be- 
tween the mountain rim on the outer edge of East Ten- 
nessee and the great valley lying below, I can safely assert 
that the great body of the people dwelling in this valley 
are reasonably intelligent for a laboring class. Many of 
them are well educated, having had the advantages of 
training in colleges and academies. A still larger number 

The Present Inhabitants of East Tennessee^ etc. 79 

have a tolerably fair education, and most of them have 
enough for the ordinary business transactions of life. Not 
many of them are entirely without education. The last 
are mostly old men who were reared before the recent 
means of mental improvement existed. The spirit of 
mental improvement is abroad among these people. They 
know enough to see, and do see, the immense advantage 
an educated boy or girl has over an uneducated one. The 
less education the father has, the more he is impressed 
with the necessity of providing for the education of his 
children. Hence he sacrifices everything for this end. 
Property for his children, in the estimation of such a man, 
is nothing in comparison with a good education. It is sur- 
prising how largely this feeling has prevailed among un- 
educated men since the war. 

The people dwelling in this valley are generally indus- 
trious, moral and well-to-do in the world. A majority of 
them own their own farms ; some of these indeed are small 
and poor. But they are sufficient to secure an independ- 
ent living. Many of these farms are large, rich and pro- 
ductive. The owners of such lands are independent, not 
to say wealthy. They gather around them fine stock, and 
the latest and most approved means of farming. They 
improve their houses, have their family carriages, their 
parlors, their pianos or organs, their books and news- 
papers. They send their sons and daughters to school. 
Such homes and families can be found in every neighbor- 
hood, and often many of them. 

The people living in the rich valleys, and a majority of 
those in the hills also, are either independent or comfort- 
able livers. The soil and climate permit the growth of 
nearly every article of food necessary for the sustenance of 
man and beast. This is in fact a land of fatness and 
abundance. The people have long been celebrated for 
their hospitality and good living. Hospitality, generous 
and sincere, is the law of each household. 

I repeat, great changes have taken place, and are still 

80 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

going on, in all this great mountain-encircled valley. 
The people as a general rule are wide awake, and pressing 
to the front. Old things have already become new. The 
old East Tennessee of forty years ago no longer exists. 

The native East Tennessean, especially the native 
mountaineer, is a proud spirited man. He will neither 
submit to wrong nor brook an insult. The man who insults 
or wrongs him must expect to answer for his ofltense. 

Many of these men know nothing of lineage, and care 
nothing about it. They have inherited in some way a 
brave, proud spirit that feels no inferiority even in the 
very highest presence. Breathing from infancy the subtle 
ether of his mountain elevation, he feels within himself 
an irrepressible spirit of individualism that forgets and 
ignores all social distinctions. 

Speaking on this very point, **In the Tennessee Moun- 
tains," Charles Egbert Craddock, who has so admirably 
portrayed the character in many respects of these people, 
but not their language, says: **The pride of the South- 
ern mountaineers is so intense that it recognizes no 
superior, so inordinate, that one is tempted to cry out : 
'Here are the Republicans,' or indeed, *Here are the only 
aristocrats.' " 

Slavery was never so universal or so powerful as to be- 
come all controlling in East Tennessee. With it, there 
never arose in this region, great lordly proprietors, whose 
influence over those below them was irresistible. There 
was no headship, no clanship. All were equals. In the 
dense, slave-holding communities of the South, this head- 
ship or leadership of the powerful was everywhere domi- 
nant. The poor whites became their willing followers. 
With base subserviency, they yielded a blind, allegiance to 
the wealthy slave-holding lords. 

Here, on the contrary, both the mountaineer and the 
valley men, have been singularly free from leadership or 
headship domination. Such a thing is absolutely un- 
known, except in so small a degree as to be of no import- 

The Present Inhabitants of East Tennessee j etc. 81 

ance. Personal influence and popularity have their place, 
and justly, too, but there is no abject subserviency, no sur* 
render of noble manhood, to the exacting demands of 
arrogant headship, or personal imperialism. 

Strangers have remarked that the rural population of 
East Tennessee, especially those of the mountain regions, 
are a sad, silent, almost a sorrowful looking people. 
There is unquestionably some truth in the observation. 
They are certainly not gay and vivacious like the French, 
nor sociable like the Germans. Their hearts are but 
moderately set on sports and amusements. Solitude and 
silence are often preferred to the noise and frivolity of 
fashionable society. The causes for this mental and moral 
development are obvious and numerous. 

For many generations the ancestors of a majority of 
these people had endured sufferings, trials, and persecu- 
tions such as rarely fall to the lot of men. Care and 
anxious solicitude were ever present with them. Their 
bitter struggles with their enemies, with the hardships of 
the wilderness, with fierce savages, and often with wsmt, 
stamped their countenances with an austerity and a gravity 
amounting almost to sadness. Then the Revolution came 
on, with its long years of suffering, of anxiety, hopes, and 
fears, and by the subtle laws of heredity these outward ex- 
pressions, in the course of time, became fixed and were 
transmitted to their descendants. 

If, during these long years, the impress and the shadow 
of sorrow have settled on their brows and all cheerfulness 
has fled from their hearts, it need not be surprising. 
Nature would have been false to her teachings if these 
conditions, existing for hundreds of years, had not pro- 
duced a grave, a stem, and a sad, a severe-looking race of 
men* This was the eternal law of heredity. 

There is another reason why these people, in their 

habits and appearance, seem to incline toward the grave 

and the sad side of life. The religion of the early settlers 

was gloomy and austere, and full of awful mysteries, as 


82 Easi Tennessee and the Civil War. 

well as startling certainties. It would have been strange 
indeed if an impressible, deeply religious people, who had 
heard sermons all their lives like those of Jonathan Ed- 
wards, and at a later day like those of Francis Asbury, 
had not been grave and serious. Unquestionably the deep 
solemnity of their religion, and the profound reverence 
observed by its practice in life, were well calculated to pro- 
duce among its followers a race of stem and almost sorrow- 
ful people. They endured the hardships of life with heroic 
fortitude and with unfaltering faith. Silently, uncom- 
plainingly, and with devout submission to a higher will, 
they went forward, fulfilling their appointed mission. 
They bowed with meek submission to the eternal decrees 
by which they were guided. 

In East Tennessee, the stillness and the solitude of the 
wilderness were first broken by the sturdy pioneers on the 
banks of the Watauga. Here the first self-imposed civil 
government west of the Alleghanies, the "Watauga Asso- 
ciation, ' ' under which the pioneers governed themselves and 
preserved order for many years, was established. Here 
the countless battles with hostile Indians took place, and 
from it many expeditions into the Cherokee and the Creek 
country were led by Evan Shelby, John Sevier, and James 
Robertson. Here originated and was planned by John 
Sevier and Isaac Shelby the most glorious event in our 
history — the expedition to King's Mountain. Here arose 
and existed for a number of years the historic State of 
Franklin — ^that ill-fated and perhaps ill-advised, self-inde- 
pendent, revolutionary state, so full of stirring incidents. 
Here the territorial government was organized, the first 
territorial legislature convened, and here was the seat of 
government for many years. Here the first Constitutional 
Convention assembled, and here the State of Tennessee 
was launched on its high destiny. From this section came 
our first governors and our first senators. And later, in 
common with Middle Tennessee, East Tennessee shared in 
the great victories of General Jackson over the Creek In- 
dians and in the undying glories of New Orleans. 

Slavery in East Tennessee. 83 



SUves and the slaye trade ^Not many slaves in East Tennessee— Men in- 
different at first aboat the mond question involved— Emancipation 
societies at last appear— Early societies in East Tennessee— Names of 
originators— John Rankin the Abolitionist— His labors— Dr. David 
Nelson— The first emancipation paper in the United States edited by 
Elihn Embree, at Jonesboroogh, Tennessee— The predecessor of Ben- 
jamin Londy— Londy 's ** Genius " published at Greeneville— History of 
two papers— Methodist Church in East Tennessee strongly anti- 
slavery— Records of as to— Action of General Conference in 1844 in 
silencing Francis A. Harding and Bishop Andrew because slave- 
holders aroused intense bitterness in that church in the South— Great 
change of sentiment— The church separates— The Southern branch 
becomes almost solidly pro-slavery- Important influence of separation 
of churches in bringing on secession in the South. 

At the time of the formation of the consjtitution of Ten- 
nessee, in 1796, the slaves in the state numbered ten 
thousand six hundred and thirteen. The total population 
as shown by the census then taken was seventy-seven 
thousand two hundred and sixty-two. The slaves in East 
Tennessee numbered eight thousand one hundred and 
forty-nine, or in a total population of sixty-five thousand 
three hundred and thirty-eight, about twelve and one-half 
per cent. West of the mountains, the slaves numbered 
two thousand four hundred and sixty-six, out of a popu- 
lation of eleven thousand nine hundred and twenty-four^ 
or more than twenty per cent. 

By this constitution **every freeman" of the proper age, 
having had his residence as prescribed, ''and possessing a 
freehold in the county" was entitled to vote for members 
of the general assembly. This provision gave to free 
colored men * 'possessing a freehold" the elective franchise. 
This shows that the colored men were regarded by the 

84 East Termessee and the Civil War. 

whites in the early years of our state with more favor than 
at a later day.^ 

Our forefathers, though generally in moderate circum- 
stances, brought slaves with them to East Tennessee from 
North Carolina and Virginia. This region was poorly 
adapted to the culture of cotton, rice or indigo. Yet at 
that day, and for many years afterward, every farmer had 
his * 'cotton patch." This was for the purpose of raising 
a supply for domestic use. While cotton could be raised 
even in the eastern and more elevated counties, the region 
could not be classed as a cotton country. 

That, however, was not always, and perhaps not gen- 
erally the question. Men who desired to possess slaves 
did not stop to inquire into the question of profit or loss. 
There was always connected with the ownership of slaves 
a sense of pride and independence, a supposed badge of 
superiority, that attracted men. Few in that day could 
resist the temptation of having some one to do for them 
the hard work of life, to relieve them of all drudgery, to 
wait upon them obsequiously, and to be ever present to 
do their will. It was flattering to human pride to be able 
to say to men, **Go," and they went, and **Come,'' and 
they dared not disobey. No doubt the fact that the wise 
and good men who framed the constitution, in 1787, had 
given twenty years longer to the planters in which to im- 
port a full supply of slaves before shutting the doors 
against them, had much to do in encouraging the purchase 
of slaves. They were enabled to **stock" their planta- 
tions with negroes, as if they were stocking them with 
horses and cattle for future profit. These distinguished 
men lent the moral sanction of their great names not only 
to slavery, but also to man stealing for twenty years 

^ A tradition ham come down to this generation, said the Hon. Horace 
Maynard, in an address at Nashville, in 1863, that a proposition was made 
in ^e convention to make Tennessee a free state, and that this was defeated 
by only one vote. 

Slavery in East Tennessee. 85 

longer. That is what it all amounted to when reduced to 
its simplest form. 

Our forefathers, in East Tennessee, at an early day, so 
far as we can ascertain by the lights before us, do not seem 
to have cared very much about the moral aspect of slavery, 
either one way or the other. Those who were able, and 
felt so inclined, purchased and held slaves. But much 
the larger number seemed not inclined to own them. 

That there should have been during the closing years of 
the last century, and the first years of this, an indifference 
to the moral aspect of the question of slavery, a dullness, 
an apathy of conscience, is not in the least surprising, 
when it is kept in mind that the foreign slave trade, under 
the sanction of the Convention of 1787, was then active and 
in full operation, and that slavers laden with human 
beings were entering every port. Slaves were lawful mer- 
chandise, as much so as rum and broadcloth. As the 
period of limitation was rapidly running out^ there must 
have been imusual activity in shipping in slaves, as there 
sometimes is in importing certain articles of merchandise 
just before higher duties are to be imposed under a new, 
tariff. The effect of all this was to create a speculative ex- 
citement in the slave market, and make men forget the 
moral questions lying beneath. 

But as time wore on, thoughtful men began to reflect on 
the question. Now and then the inherent wrong of 
slavery forced consideration on their minds. New light 
dawned on them. Then the question arose : What shall 
be done to get rid of this evil? Logically co-operation was 
suggested and adopted. Emancipation societies began to 
spring up. This was especially the case in Kentucky and 
East Tennessee. So far as East Tennessee is concerned, 
it appears that on the 25th of February, 1815, the * 'Ten- 
nessee Manimiission Society'' was organized, at Lost 
Creek Meeting House, in Jefferson county. 

The originators of this movement were largely Quakers 
and Covenanters. On the day named, eight persons or- 

86 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

ganized themselves into a society for the purpose of * 'promot- 
ing the manumission of slaves. ' ' These persons were Charles 
Osborne, John Canady, John Swan, John Underwood, Jesse 
Willis, David Maulsby, Elihu Swan and Thomas Morgan. 
The first article of the constitution adopted was, **each 
member is to have an advertisement in the most conspicu- 
ous part of his house, in the following words, viz. ; *Pree- 
dom is the natural right of all men. I therefore acknowl- 
edge myself a member of the Tennessee Society for promoting 
manumission of slaves.' " On the 21st of November, 1815, 
the first general convention was held at **Lick Creek 
Meeting House of Friends," in Greene county. The sec- 
ond annual convention was held in Greeneville on the 19th 
or 20th of November, 1816. Soon after the first society 
was formed, in 1815, other societies were organized in 
Greene, Washington, Sullivan, Cocke and Knox counties. 
One society was formed in Knoxville.* There were sixteen 
branches or societies in East Tennessee, with 474 members. 
No members or branches are mentioned from beyond the 
Cumberland Mountains, and therefore the conclusion is 
that the society was confined mainly to East Tennessee. 

As it is interesting to know who were formally identi- 
fied with the anti-slavery movement, I give the names of 
those persons present at the annual convention in 1822. 
Prom Greene county, Stephen Brooks, John Marshall, 
Samuel McNees, David Stanfield, James Jones, James 
Galbriath, Lawrence Earnest and Wesley Earnest and 
probably Isaac Jones and Isaac Hammer. 

Blount county branch : David Dalyel, Aaron Hackney, 
Wm. Lee, John Coulson and Andrew Cowan. 

Bethesda branch : Isaiah Harrison. 

Washington county : Joseph Tucker. 

Turkey Creek : WiUiam Milliken. 

French Broad branch : Wm. Snoddy and John McCroskey. 

Holston branch : Jesse Lockheart and James McCamp- 

^ Goodspeed's ** History of Tennessee," title, Greene coonty, pp. 881-882. 

Slavery in East Tennessee. 87 

Jefferson county : John Caldwell, James Caldwell, Elisha 
Hammer, John Swan and John Swain. 

Middle Creek : John Kerr. 

Knox county : Robert M. Anderson. 

Besides the above, the names of Thomas Doan as clerk, 
Asa Gray as treasurer, and that of Abraham Jones ap- 
pear as members.* 

These names stand for the very best of the old East 
Tennessee families. Nearly every one of them is well 
known to-day through their descendants. I well recollect 
at least four of these men, namely, that good and rather 
strong man in his day, Bev. Stephen Brooks, a pioneer 
Methodist preacher, who was a member of the Constitu- 
tional Convention of 1796 ; that strong, brave, clear-headed 
Covenanter Presbyterian, John Caldwell ; that pure, bright 
and intelligent Quaker, William Lee;' and that other 
strikingly strong man, Robert M. Anderson. In June, 
1861, in a conversation with the Hon. Horace Maynard 
and myself, Mr. Caldwell referred with just pride and 
satisfaction to the part he had taken away back in early 
days in favoring emancipation, and, in part, in anticipat- 

^ Mach of this information is obtained from Goodspeed's " History of 
Tennessee,'* East Tennessee edition. 

* This was unquestionably Ephndm Lee, the Either of William. Ephraim 
died at eighty-six in 1866. I am confinned in this by a couTersation with 
T. R. Lee, a son of William Lee, and a grandson of Ephraim, a most 
worthy gentleman residin|< at FriendsviUe, Blount county, the old home 
of Ephraim. From him I learned the foUowing anecdotes related of his 
grandfather : He and the Bey. Dr. Isaac Anderson, referred to above, another 
emancipationist, were talking of exchangiuK horses, but could not agree, 
because each was afraid that he was getting the advantage of the other in 
the trade. Ephraim was a strong Union man during the war, as the 
Friends were nearly everywhere. He had all his horses taken from him 
by Confederate soldiers, excepting one. On one occasion, when these sol- 
diers were around, he took the remaining horse to a cedar thicket near by, 
and tied it out. On his return, he met some soldiers, who said to him: 
"Old man, what did you do with that horse?" He answered: '' He is 
hitched up among those cedara" The horse was taken. When some of 
his grandchildren said to him: '' Grand-pa, why did you answer in that 
way ?" he said : *' I could not tell a story." 

88 East Tennessee <md the Civil War. 

ing the troubles then looming up in the country on ac- 
count of slavery. In 1861, he was still true to his orig- 
inal convictions. He was most ardently devoted to the 
Union, and remained so to the end of his life, which did 
not close till he had seen every slave in the land set free 
from bondage. John Caldwell was naturally a remark- 
able man — ^robust, determined, conscientious; a perfect 
type of our old Scotch Covenanters. In the days of the 
American Colonization Society, while Mr. Clay was its 
president, he was one of its vice-presidents. 

Robert M. Anderson became a distinguished circuit judge. 
Of wonderful physical development and with magnificent 
intellectual endowments, no one who ever saw him could 
ever forget him. He was a keen wit, an inimitable hu- 
morist, a profound judge, and a noble, high-toned gentle- 
man. He was a brother of the estimable Judge Samuel 
Anderson ; also a brother of the remarkably great lawyer, 
William E. Anderson, as well as a brother of the great 
theologian, Dr. Isaac Anderson, the founder of the South- 
western Theological College at Maryville. Truly there 
were giants in the land in those days. 

It does not appear from any records available what be- 
came of the Manumission Society of Tennessee after 1822. 
Doubtless it continued to hold its meetings until the slavery 
sentiment became so intolerant as to make it unsafe to do 
so. To fix the date when this happened is impossible, 
but probably it was sometime between 1825 and 1834. 
That there was a strong anti-slavery feeling in East Ten- 
nessee, about 1820, is proven by tradition as well as by 
such historical facts as we have bearing on the question. 
In 1826, there were 143 anti-slavery societies in the United 
States, of which number 103 were in the South.* 

Another East Tennessean, who was at an early day as- 
sociated with the anti-slavery movement, and at a later 
day with abolitionism, was the Bev. John Rankin. He 

» Wilson's " Bise and Fall of the Slave Power," VoL I, p. 179. 

Slavery in East Tennessee. 89 

was a native of Jefferson county. Mr. Rankin was a 
Prebyterian of Covenanter blood. He belonged to an old, 
influential and very large family in East Tennessee, many 
members of which have become Presbyterian ministers. 
In 1814, says one of his sons, **he joined an abolition 
society in Jefferson county." This was probably in 1815, 
as the first anti-slavery society in that county was or- 
ganized in that year. In 1817, he determined to leave 
Tennessee and move to Ohio. He left on account of slavery, 
being unwilling to raise a family in a state whose soil was 
* 'polluted" by that institution. On his way to Ohio, he 
was induced to stop at Paris, Kentucky, where he accepted 
a **call" to a church and spent four years. At the end of 
this time, he moved to Ripley, Ohio, where he was the 
pastor of a church for forty-four consecutive years. During 
all this time he was incessant in his work in favor of the 
abolition of slavery. 

In 1824, Mr. Rankin published a series of letters in 
opposition to slavery. Two years later these were gathered 
together and published in book form, and scattered widely 
over the country. They are said to have produced a deep 
impression on the public mind. While residing in Ken- 
tucky, he had lectured and written much on this subject. 
In 1836, he was employed by the Ohio State Abolition 
Society to travel and lecture for one year. "While on 
this lecturing tour,'' says his son, in a late letter to the 
author, "he was mobbed perhaps a hundred or more times.'* 
"Stones and fire brands and eggs were often thrown at 
him, and windows smashed, though he was never hurt." ^ 

Mr. Rankin seems to have been one of those brave, in- 
tensely earnest men who could not be silent on the subject 

^ For these facts, and many others, I am indebted to Captain R. 0. 
Bankin, a son of John Kankin, hy a letter of December 5, 1892. I am also 
indebted to Mr. J. C. Leggett for facts, appearing in an address delivered 
by him at Ripley, Ohio, May 5, 1892, on the occasion of the " dedication of 
a bronze bust and granite monument " to the memory of John Rankin, 
which address with others has been pnblished in a pamphlet. 


90 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

of slavery. He made no compromise with what he con- 
sidered a great crime. Being one of the earliest, as well 
as one of the bravest and ablest of the early Abolitionists, 
his teachings had a wide influence. 

Mr. Rankin once said that in his boyhood '^a majority 
of the people of East Tennessee were Abolitionists." ^ He 
frequently remarked that in his youth **it was much safer 
to make an anti-slavery speech in the South than it became 
during his middle life to make the same speech in the North, 
not that the people had changed so materially, but greed 
had taken the place of justice."* For many years he 
favored some peaceful means of getting rid of slavery. 
One of these was to pay for the slaves at certain fixed 
prices, taking the states one at a time. 

**But, for ten years before the late Civil War, he had lost 
all hope of a peaceful solution of the question, and wished 
that the conflict, which he said must come, might come as 
speedily as possible. And, when it did come, he gave 
eight sons and one grandson to the Union. He was a 
genuine Abolitionist. He believed slavery was a great 
crime, which must be destroyed, peaceably, if possible, 
forcibly, if necessary. His house was for many years the 
first station of one branch of the famous 'underground 
railroad,' and always the *refuge of the oppressed.* In 
his house at Ripley, Ohio, was sheltered 'Eliza Harris,' of 
Uncle Tom's Cabin, a young slave from Kentucky, who 
fled from home with her child, to avoid separation by sale. 
She crossed the Ohio by leaping, in her desperation, from 
one mass of floating ice to another, sometimes in the water 
to her waist, and finally, exhausted and nearly frozen, she 
was pulled ashore by a man waiting on the Ohio side." * 

Another native of East Tennessee, who early moved to 
the West and became identified with the anti-slavery cause, 
was the Rev. Dr. David Nelson, a Presbyterian minister, 

1 Wilson's " Rise and Fall," etc., Vol. I, p. 178. 

« "Address of Leggett," etc. » " Washington Post," of March 8, 1896. 

Slavery in East Tennessee. 91 

widely known as the author of the * 'Cause and Cure of 
Infidelity. ' ' He was a native of Washington county, and, 
like Mr. Rankin, was educated at Washington College, 
under the venerable Dr. Samuel Doak. He was somewhat 
advanced in years before he became a preacher. Not long 
after this, he moved to Kentucky, and at a later day be- 
came connected with Center College. No doubt can exist 
as to the fact, that in the pulpit he was one of the most 
wonderful men this country has ever produced. 

In June, 1835, Dr. Nelson was driven out of Missouri by 
an * 'infuriated blood-thirsty mob of pro-slavery men," of 
Marion county. Taking refuge in the river bottom, just 
west of Quincy, Illinois, and surrounded by the water of 
''the raging, swollen Mississippi," a refugee and a wan- 
derer here was suggested to him and composed that sad, 
touching song found in all Presbyterian hymn books, com- 
mencing with the line : 

" My days are gliding swiftly by." 

It is a fact not generally known, that the first out-and- 
out emancipation paper in the United States was published 
at Jonesborough, in the mountains of East Tennessee, the 
oldest town in the state, and a place rendered immortal by 
its connection with the memory of Governor John Sevier, 
Andrew Jackson and William G. Brownlow. Neverthe- 
less, this is a fact. Some time early in the year 1819, 
Elihu Embree, a Quaker, commenced the publication of 
an anti-slavery paper in that town, called the "Manumis- 
sion Intelligence," a copy of which paper, dated July 19, 
1819, 1 have seen.^ It was printed by J. Howard for the 
"Manumission Society." J. Howard was the father of 
Mrs. Judge Samuel Milligan, Mrs. Prof. Saflfbrd, and the 
brilliant Major John K. Howard, who was killed in one of 
the early battles of the late Civil War in Virginia. 

* This paper is the property of Colonel Moees White, of Knozville, to whom 
I return my acknowledgment for its use. I hear of eight more numbers 
in Washington county. 

92 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

Elihu Embree was a brother of the most estimable 
Elijah Embree, who built and for a long time operated 
an extensive nail factory in Embreeville, Washington 
county, East Tennessee. Elijah married a granddaughter 
of Gk)yemor John Sevier. He was distinguished alike for 
his splendid virtues and for his disinterested public spirit. 

After publishing this paper for nearly two years, Mr. 
Embree died, and here commences a part of history not 
generally understood. On the death of Mr. Embree, the 
subscription list and the good-will of this paper were sold, 
and the work commenced by him was continued at Mt. 
Pleasant, Ohio, by the celebrated Benjamin Lundy, under 
the name of the * *Genius of Universal Emancipation. ' * The 
first number was dated July, 1821. Nine months later, in 
March, 1822, Lundy moved with his paper to Greeneville, 
Tennessee, where he continued to publish his monthly 
paper until July, 1823. He may have published it some- 
what longer. It will be remembered that he moved with 
his paper to Baltimore, in 1824. At that place, his paper 
appears as No. 1, Vol. 4.* 

As far as I can see. East Tennessee was regarded at that 
time as a more favorable field for anti-slavery work than 
Ohio. The anti-slavery sentiment at this time was stronger 
in the South, and particularly so in Tennessee and Ken- 
tucky, than it was in New England.* This statement is 
corroborated by the fact that at the convention to promote 
the abolition of slavery, held in Baltimore, in 1826, which 
Lundy attended, of the eighty-one societies represented 
there, seventy-three were from the South.* 

The history of the two papers, Embree's and Lundy's, 
is then briefly as follows : In 1816 or 1817, one Charles 
Osborne started a paper at Mt. Pleasant, Ohio, called the 
**Philanthrophist.'* No one asserts that this was an open, 
unequivocal emancipation paper. Osborne after a while 

* Autobiography of Benjamin Londy. 

• Wilson's " Kise and FaU," etc., Vol. I, p. 170. » Id., p. 170. 

Slavery in East Tennessee. 93 

invited Lundy to join him in this enterprise. Lundy 
agreed to do so, but before he could execute his promise, 
he had to go with some saddlery to St. Louis. He re- 
mained in St. Louis until 1820 or 1821, when he went to 
Mount Pleasant, Ohio. In the meantime, Osborne had 
failed, and his paper had been sold to Elihu Embree, and 
was being published in Jonesborough, East Tennessee, 
under the name of the * 'Manumission Intelligencer.'* In 
1820, or the early part of 1821, Embree died, and his paper 
was purchased by Lundy, at least the latter commenced in 
July, 1821, publishing the *' Genius.** In other words the 
•*(Jenius** was the successor of the **Emancipator'* or 
"Manumission Intelligencer.** In 1821, after publishing 
nine numbers of the * 'Genius** in Ohio, Lundy left that 
state, and in July of that year, issued in Greeneville, Ten- 
nessee, No. 10, Vol. 1, of his paper. 

From the foregoing facts, gathered largely from Lundy*s 
autobiography, and also from Wilson's **Rise and Fall,*' 
etc., Greeley *s * 'Civil Conflict,**, and the * 'American Cyclo- 
paedia, it appears : 

First. That Lundy as is generally asserted, even by men 
of the intelligence of those above named, did not publish 
the "first distinctively and exclusively anti-slavery paper** 
in the United States, but that this honor belongs to Elihu 

Second. It is incontestably clear that this paper was 
published at Jonesborough, East Tennessee. 

Third. That Lundy's paper, as is often asserted, was 
not published at Jonesborough, but at Greeneville, Ten- 

It is most probable that Limdy only secured the good 
will and the subscription list of the "Emancipator,** when 
he commenced the publication of the "Genius** in Ohio, 
for it appears that at first it was published twenty miles 
away. When he came to Tennessee, in 1822, it appears 
that he published his paper from the material of the 



94 East Termeasee and the Civil Wa/r. 

* 'Emancipator."* At the same time he published a weeklj 
paper and a monthly agricultural journal. 

Mr. Lundy's statement in his life is as follows (page 
19) : • 'Before I left St. Louis, I heard that, as I had 
stayed from home so much longer than had been antici- 
pated, Charles Osborne had become quite tired of the employ- 
ment of editor, and had sold out his printing establishment 
to Elisha Bates, and also that Elihu Embree had com- 
menced the publication of an anti-slavery paper, called the 
'Emancipator,' in Jonesborough, Tennessee. I therefore 
made up my mind to settle with my family in Illinois* 
But on my way home I was informed of the death of Em- 
bree. ... I determined immediately to establish a 
periodical of my own. I therefore removed to Mount 
Pleasant, and commenced the publication of the 'Oenius 
of Universal Emancipation,' in January, 1821. . . ." 

"When the friends of the deceased EUhu Embree heard 
of my paper, they urged me to remove to Tennessee, and 
use the press on which his had been printed ; I assented, 
and after having issued eight monthly numbers of the 
'Grenius' in Ohio, I started for Tennessee. I traveled 
eight hundred miles, in going there, one-half on foot, the 
rest by water." 

As before stated, in 1824, Mr. Lundy decided to move 
his paper to Baltimore. He accordingly did so in that 
year. In 1829, William Lloyd Garrison was prevailed on 
to join him in this enterprise. They found Baltimore a 
hot place for the publication of Abolition sentiments. Mr. 
Garrison was indicted, and on trial convicted for the pub- 
lication of a criminal libel on a slave trader, and was cast 
into prison. Mr. Lundy was assaulted on the street for 
something he had written in reference to a slave trader. 
His assailant was indicted for the act, found guilty, and 
fined lightly, while Mr. Lundy had the satisfaction of being 
assured by the learned jurist presiding on the trial that he 

1 Greeley's " Civil Conflict," Vol. I, p. 113. 

Slavery in East Tennessee. 95 

had only received in the assault on him what he deserved. 
That must have been very soothing to his wounded feel- 
ings! After their experience in Baltimore, no wonder 
Lundy and Garrison determined to transfer their paper to 
Washington City. 

Both Horace Greely and Henry Wilson, in their respect- 
ive works, give the pre-eminence to Mr. Lundy over John 
Rankin as an early anti-slavery advocate. They rank the 
former as the leading man among the early workers in this 
cause. I doubt if this estimate is correct. The greatest 
part of the reputation of Mr. Lundy has arisen out of the 
belief that he published the first anti-slavery paper in the 
United States. This, as I have shown, is an error. This 
distinction belongs to Elihu Embree. Lundy and Rankin 
commenced their labors about the same time, namely, in 
1816 or 1817, and both of them, by lectures and writings, 
devoted their lives to the work. But Lundy died compara- 
tively young, while Rankin lived to see the yearnings of 
his heart satisfied at the close of the war, after nearly 
fifty years of unceasing labor. Rankin was a better scholar 
than Lundy, with as much or more ability, and very much 
more force of character. He was equally as earnest and 
as brave. He was decidedly aggressive, while Lundy was 
cautious, if not somewhat timid. 

The Methodist Church in East Tennessee, as well as in 
Middle Tennessee, at an early day, was strongly and 
almost unitedly opposed to slavery. Between 1818 and 
1822, the Quarterly and Annual Conferences were con- 
stantly troubled with this vexed question. Session after 
session, they promulgated rules on the subject, and as 
frequently altered or modified them, but always in opposi- 
tion to or in retraint of slaveholding and the buying and 
selling of slaves. This spirit was very manifest about 
1822. Thus John B. McFerrin, D.D., in his history of 
Methodism in Tennessee, Vol. 2, p. 243, speaking of the 
Rev. Wm. Garrett, says : 

"In 1822, at the age of forty-eight, he was licensed to 

96 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

preach. In this work he was hindered for two or three 
years on account of his connection with slavery. James 
Axley, as presiding elder, and Enoch Moore, as circuit 
preacher, were anti-slavery in the administration of dis- 
cipline, and not only refused to license slaveholders to 
preach, but actually denied them the privilege of exhort- 
ing, or even leading in prayer-meeting, and going so far as 
to denounce slaveholders as no better than thieves and 

From the same work, page 494, 1 quote a part of a letter 
from Rev. Wm. Garrett, of April, 1869 : 

*' Wesley Harrison, another layman, emigrated to Ohio, 
in 1817, under the influence of the anti-slavery feeling 
which began to spread about this time. Indeed, there 
was a large emigration of Methodists from East Tennessee 
to the North-west in those years, and until 1822, on ac- 
count of slavery. James Axley traveled and preached in 
that section extensively, and took decided ground against 
the slaveholders having anything to do in managing the 
affairs of the Church, and especially preaching. Much 
irritation of feeling was produced, and what with the emi- 
gration of a great many to a ^free state,' in the style of 
those days, and the unfriendly administration of dis* 
cipline upon the slavery cause, the Church came to a 
standstill, and was in a measure paralyzed and powerless 
for good. As a means of averting greater evils and 
saving the Church, if possible, colonization and emancipa- 
tion societies were formed, and it was believed by many 
that such organizations did a great deal to prevent a seri- 
ous rupture in the Church till the storm passed over. 
The anti-slavery feeling culminated in 1820 (and was 
strengthened, doubtless, by the agitation of the question 
in congress in connection with the admission of Missouri) 
under the administration of James Axley as presiding 
elder, and Enoch Moore, preacher in charge. So far did 
they go in proscription that a man who owned slaves was 
not allowed even to lead a public prayer meeting, and 

Slavery in East Tennessee. 97 

thus many good men, who were in a condition to be use- 
ful, were held back from exercising their gifts until this 
regime passed away.'* 

At the Annual Conference held at Liberty Hill, on 
October 7, 1808, the following rules were adopted : 

Wbstbrn Annual Confbbbncb. 

''Question. What method shall be taken with those 
members of our Society that shall enter into the slave- 

Answer. Every preacher who has charge of a circuit 
shall upon information secured cite every such member 
or members so buying or selling a slave or slaves to ap- 
pear at the ensuing Quarterly Meeting Conference, and 
there to submit his or her case to the judgment of said 
Quarterly Conference, who shall proceed to determine 
whether the person or persons have purchased or sold said 
slave or slaves from speculative motives or from motives of 
justice and mercy ; and if a majority of said Conference 
shall judge that he, she or they have bought or sold such 
slave or slaves from speculative motives, they shall expel 
such person or persons from their societies. 

(Signed,) Francis Asbury. 

William McKbndrbe. 

Test: William Burk, Secretary. 

Tbnnbssbbs, Libbrty Hill, October 7, 1808."* 

At another conference held at Bethlehem Meeting 
House, October 28, 1816, a committee reported rules for 
the government of the Church, as follows : first declaring 
that *'we sincerely believe and declare it as our opinion 
that slavery is a moral evil," also that slavery is a **cur8e" 
to the Church of God. 

^ I am indebted to the late lamented Rev. W. C. Graves for this docn- 
ment, copied from the records of the early Tennessee Conferences in his 


98 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

'*1. If any member of our Society shall buy or sell 
a slave or slaves in order to make gain, or shall sell to 
any person who buys to sell again for that purpose, such 
member shall be called to an account as the discipline 
directs, and expelled from our Church ; nevertheless, the 
above rule does not affect any person in our Society, if he 
or she make it appear that they have bought or sold to 
keep man and wife, parents and children together." 

"2. No preacher, traveling or local, shall be eligible to 
the office of deacon in our Church, unless he assures ua 
sentimentally, in person or by letter, that he disapproves 
of slavery, and declares his willingness to execute, 
wherever it is practicable, a legal emancipation of such 
slave or slaves conformably to the laws of the state in 
which he lives." 

Perhaps I may be going back a few years, as I find it 
impossible to get dates from the book I am quoting, but I 
give the following as the action taken by the * 'Tennessee 
Conference" held at **Fountain Head" about 1815, in ref- 
erence to a member who owned slaves : 

"Leven Edney, recommended from Nashville Circuit ;^ 
his character examined and approved. Learner Blackman 
being security that he '11 set his slaves free, when prac- 

"When practicable," exclaims the author. Dr. McFer- 
rin, **somany promised and gave 'security,' but in few 
instances was it found to be practicable." * It would seem 
from this that the spirit of greed and the lust of power 
were stealing into the Methodist Church in spite of the 
discipline and the rules adopted by its conferences. 

At an Annual Conference held at Franklin, Tennessee, in 
1817, the subject of slaveholding again came up for con- 
sideration, and the following rules were adopted, namely : 

''First. That if any local elder, deacon or preacher, 
should purchase a slave, the Quarterly Conference should 

» ** Methodiflm in Tennessee," Vol. II, p. 161. 

Slavery in East Tennessee. 99 

say how long the slave should serve as a remuneration for 
the purchase money, and that the purchaser should enter 
into a written obligation to emancipate such slave at the 
expiration of the term of servitude, provided emancipation 
were permissible imder the laws of the state, but that if the 
laws of the state should continue to oppose emancipation, 
then the next Quarterly Conference held after the expira- 
tion of the term of servitude, should determine the future 
status oj the sla/oe. 

*' Second. The same rule applied to private members, ex- 
cept that their cases were to be managed by a committee 
appointed by the preacher in charge, and in all cases of 
preachers, deacons, elders or private members, the children 
of slaves purchased, born during bondage, or term of serv- 
itude, were to be manumitted upon arrival at the age of 
twenty-five, provided the law should then admit of eman- 
cipation, but if the law did not, the cases of all such chil- 
dren were to be submitted to the Quarterly Conference or 
the committee, as the case might be." 

The rule in reference to the selling of slaves by a preacher 
or member is very curious. It required the preacher to 
submit his case to the Quarterly Conference, and a lay 
member to the committee, which conference or committee, 
as the case might be, should determine for what term of 
years the slave should be sold, and it required the seller 
to record in the county court the emancipation of the 
slave at the expiration of said term.^ 

At the conference held in Nashville, October, 1819, Peter 
Buram and Gilbert D. Taylor were recommended to be ad- 
mitted on trial,* and both were rejected because they were 
slaveholders. A number of persons who were applicants for 
deacons' orders, were likewise rejected for the same cause. 
Some of the members at the conference protested against 
this action. An appeal was taken, but no decisive action 
was taken on the appeal. 

* Goodspeed's " History of Tennessee," p. 668. * Id., p. 670. 

* : .f :•• 

100 East Tennessee and the Civil War, 

In the conference held at Columbia, Tennessee, in 1824, 
in reply to an address from the "Moral Religious Manu- 
mission Society of West Tennessee," the following resolu- 
tion was adopted : 

** Resolved, That the address from the Moral Religious 
Manumission Society be returned to committee accompa- 
nied with a note stating that so far as the address inyolves 
the subject of slavery we concur in the sentiments that 
slavery is an evil to be deplored, and that it should be 
counteracted by every judicious and religious exertion."* 

Up to this date (1824) the sentiment seemed to be well 
nigh universal in the Tennessee Conference that slavery 
was a great moral evil, a curse to the Church, and slave- 
holding a sin, not to be tolerated by the Church after the 
time should come, which seemed to be anticipated, when 
the laws of the state would permit emancipation. 

As late as 1835, the Church still held to its former de- 
cisions on the subject of slavery, as appears by the follow- 
ing extract from a letter to the author from the late 
lamented Rev. W. C. Graves, of Morristown, Tennessee, 
dated February 16, 1893, in which he says : 

*'In 1835, Conference (Holston) was held in Abingdon, 
Va. Thos. Stringfield was charged with having sold a 
slave. The punishment inflicted was the withdrawal from 
him for twelve months of the parchment by which he held 
the office of an elder. It was the year to elect delegates 
to the General Conference. Some votes were cast for 
Stringfield. He requested those who voted for him to 
cease voting for him. He did not wish to go to the 
(Jeneral Conference in his crippled condition. But in 
that crippled condition, the (reneral Conference elected 
him editor of the 'South-western Christian Advocate,' a 
new Church paper to be published in Nashville, Tenn." 

Little did those pious men anticipate that the Church 
would be rent in twain, in 1844, on the subject of slavery, 

\Good8peed'a " History of Tezmeawe/' p. 670. 

* » V • 

Slavery in East Tennessee. 101 

and that the Southern branch would range itself, and 
rightfully too, under the circumstances, distinctly on the 
extreme Southern side of the issues inamediately involved 
in the separation. Much less could these good men, who 
looked at slavery *^as an evil to be deplored," pierce the 
future and behold the whole Methodist Church, South, in 
1861, except a ' 'remnant'' in East Tennessee, ranging it- 
self on the side of slavery, and for its sake striving to 
destroy the government. The issue came in 1844. The 
(General Conference met in New York in that year. This 
was a memorable meeting. The ever-present subject of 
slavery came up to mar and destroy the harmony of that 
great representative body of Christians. Two cases came 
before that body involving the moral right to hold persons 
in bondage. The first was that of Francis A. Harding, 
who had been suspended by the Baltimore Conference 
from the office of minister for refusing to manumit five 
slaves belonging to his wife at the time of their marriage, 
and which by the laws of Maryland remained the property 
of the wife after marriage. The Baltimore Conference 
adopted the following preamble and resolution : 

* 'Whereas, the Baltimore Conference can not and will 
not tolerate slavery in any of its members." . . . 

* 'Resolved, that Brother Harding be suspended until the 
next annual Conference, or until he assures the Episcopacy 
that he has taken the necessary steps to secure the free- 
dom of his slaves." 

The fact that the slaves were still the property of the 
wife and, therefore, not subject to the disposition of the 
husband ought to have been a sufficient answer to this 
charge. But it was not. On appeal to the (reneral Con- 
ference, the action of the Baltimore Conference in sus- 
pending Mr. Harding from the ministry was affirmed by a 
vote of 117 to 66. 

A still more noted case came up for consideration in this 
Conference : it was that of Bishop James 0. Andrew, of 
Georgia. He had become, contrary to his will, the owner 

102 East Tennessee cmd the Civil War. 

of two slaves. In addition to these, on a second marriage, 
he found himself interested in some slaves belonging to 
his wife. Unwilling to occupy this position, he had the 
slaves secured to his wife by a trust deed, divesting him- 
self of all interest in them. But he was still the owner of 
two others, one received by will, and the other inherited 
from his first wife. Whether he made any effort to manu- 
mit the last one does not appear. He did make an effort 
to send the first to Africa, but the slave refused to go. As 
to that one, he was clearly not guilty of any offense, pro- 
vided the laws of the State of (Jeorgia, like the laws of 
nearly all of the slaveholding states, forbid the emancipa- 
tion of the slaves, except upon the condition that they 
were sent out of the state, which it is assumed was the 
case. Under these circiunstances the following preamble 
and resolution were passed by an affirmative vote of 111, 
and a negative vote of 69 : 

* 'Whereas, the 'Discipline' of our Church forbids the do- 
ing of anything calculated to destroy our itinerant General 
Superintendence; and, whereas, Bishop Andrew has be- 
come connected with slavery, by marriage and otherwise, 
and this act having drawn after it circumstances which, in 
the estimation of this Oeneral Conference, will greatly em- 
barass the exercise of his office as an itinerant Oeneral 
Superintendent, if not, in some places, entirely prevent it, 

'•Resolved, That it is the sense of this General Confer- 
ence that he desist from the exercise of the office so long as 
this impediment remains." 

The clause in the Discipline on which this action was 
based was as follows : 

"We declare that we are as much as ever convinced of 
the great evil of slavery, therefore^ no slaveholder shall 
be eligible to any official station in our Church hereafter 
where the laws of the state in which he lives will admit of 
emancipation, and permit the liberated slave to enjoy free- 
dom. When any traveling preacher becomes the owner of 

Slavery in East Tennessee. 103 

a slave or slaves by any means, he shall forfeit his minis- 
terial character, unless he execute, if it be practicable, a 
legal emancipation of such slaves conformably to the laws 
of the state in which he lives." 

The delegates from the Tennessee Conferences, and in- 
deed all the members from the slaveholding states, except 
four from the Baltimore Conference, and one from Texas, 
voted against the action of the majority. Those repre- 
senting the Holston Conference were E. F. Sevier, S. Pat- 
ton and Thomas Stringfield. The first of these was a 
slave owner, the grandson of Governor John Sevier. The 
last was the same person who had been suspended in 1836, 
for selling a slave. 

The action of the General Conference, as to Mr. Hard- 
ing, according to the Constitution of the Church, was 
clearly illegal. It is not so easy to determine in the case 
of Bishop Andrew, for all the facts necessary for a correct 
judicial opinion, do not seem to have been before the con- 
ference when he was on trial. 

Be that as it may the decision was a most unfortimate 
one. It immediately led to a division of the Church into 
two bodies, separated by a geographical line, and holding 
widely antagonistic views on the great and all-absorbing 
question of slavery. Up to this time no religious denomi- 
nation, having a sure foothold in the South, except the 
Quakers, had perhaps been so stedfastly opposed to 
slavery as the Methodist. As a general rule it had been 
conscientiously opposed to that institution. Now the 
whole matter was changed. With one voice that denomi- 
nation condemned the action of the conference in suspend- 
ing Bishop Andrew from office. Almost at once the minds of 
Southern members, under the influence of this wrong as they 
esteemed it, changed from a state of opposition to slavery, 
or of mild indifference, to its open advocacy. From this 
time, this active, earnest Church in the South became pro- 
slavery in almost every fiber. And when Civil War came 
on in 1861, no Church was more united in the Southern 

104 East TemiesBee and the Civil War. 

cause, except in EapSt Tennessee, than the Methodist Epis- 
copal Church South. 

Waiving any consideration of the legal question in- 
volved in the case of Bishop Andrew, under the Constitu- 
tion and the law of the Methodist Church, I do not hesitate 
to say that here was a great blunder on the part of a ma- 
jority of the General Conference, not to say a wrong or a 
crime. It aroused a bitter spirit of indignation as well as 
alarm in the Methodist Church throughout the entire 
South. Bishop Andrew was a great and a good man. He 
was justly very popular. A keen sympathy was awak- 
ened in his behalf. But this was not all. By this decision 
of the General Conference, every Methodist slave owner 
felt that the same intolerant spirit of the majority in the 
North which had stricken down the great Bishop Andrew 
might soon be directed against him and his property also. 
The result was a universal cry for separation. Thus one 
bond which held the Union together was rudely snapped 
asunder. This was to the Southern people what the repeal 
of the Missouri Compromise was to the Northern people ten 
years later. Then, a few years later, followed the split in 
the Presbyterian and in the Baptist Churches on the same 
subject, and their division into separate bodies according to 
geographical lines. And thus other bonds were severed, 
and the minds of men became prepared for the secession of 
the Southern States. 

The important influence exerted by the division of the 
three great churches, caused directly by the question of 
slavery, in preparing the minds of the Southern people for 
a separation from the general government, cannot be over- 
estimated. It has heretofore received too little considera- 
tion in tracing out the causes which led to and culminated 
in the great conflict of arms in 1861. Leaving out of con- 
sideration the mad passions engendered by this division, 
the feeling of hate and distrust it aroused, and the sever- 
ing of the strongest ties which bind men together in sym- 
pathy—church relations — the evil extended far beyond 

Slavery in East Termeasee. 105 

these. It everywhere relaxed the bonds of the Union. 
The reasoning in favor of a separation of the states, how- 
ever incorrect and fallacious, became plausible and obvious 
to the dullest intellect. If the church could divide and 
separate and prosper, why not the states likewise? If a 
geographical line, dividing the slave from the free states, 
were proper in reference to religion — the most sacred and 
universal of all institutions, which draws men together in 
bonds of unity and love as nothing else can do— how much 
more natural and proper such a line as the means of sepa- 
rating diverse interests and antagonistic institutions, be- 
tween which there was an irrepressible and an enduring 
conflict. Thus men in the South unconsciously looked at 
and reasoned about this question. And though the orig- 
inal cause which divided the churches has long since 
ceased to exist, the separation still continues, with a 
Chinese wall between the two Christian communities hold- 
ing the same faith and preaching the same doctrines. 

106 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 



Early Pre8b3rterian8 were slaveholders— Become aroused to the sin of 
slavery— Commence emancipating their slaves— Legislature forbids 
emancipation — ^The ireedmen must be sent to Africa — ^Free colored 
men might sell themselves into slavery — One case of this kind — Intro- 
duction of slaves into the state for sale forbidden — Strong sentiment 
against slavery — ^Effort in constitutional convention of 1834 to abolish 
slavery — ^Friends of slavery apologize for opposing emancipation — A 
long controversy over the subject — An effort to strip slavery of some 
of its prestige fails — Constitution closes the door to general emancipa- 
tion — Slavery protected by constitution of the United States and that 
of the state— Folly of the men who, in 1861, threw away their safe- 
guards — All opposition to slavery hushed under the omnipotent des- 
potism of public opinion — No man bold enough to question slavery. 

I have thus dwelt at length on the relation the Meth- 
odist Church in Tennessee sustained toward the subject of 
slavery, partly because of the number and great influence 
of that denomination, and partly because of the abimdance 
of historical material to be found on that subject. But 
when we come to the Presbyterian Church, which at an 
early day was far more numerous and powerful than the 
Methodist in East Tennessee, we find less material relating 
to that subject out of which to construct a satisfactory nar- 
rative. There can be no doubt of the fact that in the early 
settlement of this section of the state the Presbyterians 
were largely slaveholders — ^in fact, owned most of the 
slaves. There is much evidence tending to show that when 
the anti-slavery societies began to spring up, about 1815, 
and the subject of emancipation began to occupy the 
thoughts of men, the Presbyterians became greatly aroused 
on the subject, and took a prominent, if not the leading, 
part in the movement in favor of emancipation. Many of 
the members of these early anti-slavery societies are known 

Slavery m the State of Tennessee, 107 

to have been Presbyterians. So strong was this feeling 
among them that they began voluntarily to emancipate their 
own slaves, and to send them to Liberia. Among those 
who thus set their slaves free were the Rev. Dr. Frederick 
A. Boss, Samuel Rhea, Hon. Seth J. W. Lucky, Ebenezer 
Mathes, and Valentine Sevier, all Presbyterians. These 
five persons together liberated perhaps fifty or more slaves. 

So strong was the disposition among the people to eman- 
cipate their slaves, and so numerous were the free colored 
people becoming, that the legislature of 1831 passed an 
act forbidding emancipation, except upon the condition that 
those emancipated should be immediately removed from 
the state. Bond was to be given to that effect before the 
county court could give its assent to emancipation. Two 
reasons perhaps influenced the legislature to pass this act. 
Both were in the interest of slavery. One was to throw 
obstacles in the way of emancipation, which was becoming 
too common. The other was to obviate the evil influence 
on the slaves, caused by presence of free negroes in slave- 
holding communities. When the slaves saw numerous free 
persons of their own race and color, who were spending 
most of their time in idleness, it tended to make them rest- 
less and discontented. Besides, there was danger of hav- 
ing the slaves tampered with by the free colored people. 
It mattered not that the latter did not live or dress as well 
as the slaves. This was as nothing in comparison to the 
sweet boon of working only when and for whom they 

Thus the slave owners, in order to make secure their 
property, were constantly compelled to hedge it around 
with new and more stringent safeguards, ever increas- 
ing in severity. Nearly every Southern state, perhaps 
every one, passed laws similar to the one referred to 
above. In the meantime some of the Northern states 
were closing their doors against the admission of free col- 
ored people. Finally the legislature of Tennessee, in 1854, 
passed an act requiring all persons of color who might 

108 East Tennessee cmd the Civil War. 

thereafter be emancipated, either by contract or will, to be 
transported to the western coast of Africa, unless unable 
by reason of age or disease to go. If no fund existed for 
pajdng the expenses of transportation, the slave was to be 
hired out until a sufficient sum for that purpose should be 

By an act passed in 1858 or 1859, it was provided that 
any free person of color, at the age of eighteen years, 
might choose a master and sell himself into slavery, by 
filing a petition for that purpose in the chancery court of 
the county in which he resided, setting forth his desire to 
go into slavery, giving the name of the proposed owner, 
and making publication for one month, giving due notice 
of the filing of the petition, and having notice served on 
the petitioner and the proposed purchaser to appear before 
the court at its next term. It was the duty of the judge 
to examine these persons separately, and any other persons 
he saw fit, to ascertain whether there was any fraud or im- 
position in the case, and also to appoint persons to report 
on the reasonableness of the price offered. If the judge 
was satisfied on all these points, the proposed sale was to 
be approved, and the petitioner was to go into slavery. 
One peculiar fact about this abnormal proceeding was 
that the money offered as the price of the person so sold 
was to be paid into the county treasury, for the use of the 
county schools. 

One case of sale and voluntary enslavement under this 
law occurred in Hawkins county. East Tennessee, in 1858. 
The following is a part of the record in the case : 

"Pbtition for Voluntary Enslavement. 

In Chancery at RogersviUe^ Tennessee. 

Ben, a man of color, and William Miller, Esq. 

Notice is hereby given that Ben, a man of color, has 
this day filed his petition in our said court, asking to be- 
come the slave of said Miller, under an act of the General 

Slavery in the State of Tennessee. 109 

Assembly of said state, passed the 8th day of March, 
1858. R. C. Fain, Clerk a/nd Master.^ 

May 29, 1858." 

The legislative records of the state, including the Con- 
stitutional Convention of 1834, furnish a good index of 
the state of public sentiment, and the changes taking 
place in reference to slavery, down to a comparatively re- 
cent period. Thus, the act of the legislature of 1801, 
which conferred on the county courts of the state the au- 
thority to emancipate slaves, which authority had been 
exercised by the legislature previous to that time, contains 
this significant preamble, showing the pressure for emanci- 
pation which then existed : 

** Whereas, the number of petitions presented to this 
legislature praying the emancipation of slaves not only 
tends to involve the state in great evils, but are also pro- 
ductive of great expense,*' etc. 

In 1790, there were less than four thousand slaves in 
the state. By 1810, the number had increased to upward 
of forty-four thousand. This rapid increase, as it at that 
time seemed, induced the legislature, in 1812, to prohibit 
the introduction of slaves into the state for sale. This 
fact furnishes very strong incidental proof of the weak 
hold slavery had at that time on the hearts of the people. 
In a previous chapter, the rise and growth of the many 
manumission societies, which sprang up in East Tennessee 
about 1815, were traced out: also the position of the 
Methodist Church on the subject of slavery. There are 
still other evidences of an almost general concurrence of 
sentiment at that time in condemnation of slavery. One 
of these is *^An Address delivered by a Member of the 

^ The late chancellor, Seth J. W. Lucky, my friend and afterward my 
associate as one of the chancellors of the state, so justly distinguished for 
his learning and goodness, who had liberated his own slaves thirty years 
before, determined this case, but, as his worthy son informs me, not until 
he had examined privately the petitioner as to the reasons for his singular 

110 East Tennessee and the CivU War. 

Manumission Society of Knoxyille, Tennessee, on the 17tli 
of August, 1816, by order of the Society." The name of 
the author does not appear.^ One object of the address, 
as it announced, was to show ^Hhat the principles of slav- 
ery are [were] inconsistent with the laws of nature and 
revelation." It proceeds to arraign slavery, at great 
length and with striking force, for its cruelty and its inhu- 
manity. The author argued that in no part of the world 
was slavery so inhuman as in the United States. This 
address was not the mere individual opinion of its author, 
as appears by the following note that was appended to it : 

''The foregoing has been examined by the inspecting 
committee and approved. 

Attest : Jambs Jonbs, President. 

Nov. 20, 1896." 

I might quote at length from this address, but I have 
sufficiently indicated its spirit. 

In 1821, a petition was presented to the legislature, 
praying for the passage of a law making the terms on 
which emancipation would be permitted in the state easier 
on the owners of slaves ; also praying for the emancipation 
of slaves on their reaching thereafter a certain age, and 
for a law to prevent the separation of husband and wife, 
parent and child. This petition was referred to a commit- 
tee, of which Jacob Peck, afterward one of the supreme 
judges of the state, was chairman. This committee con- 
curred in all the propositions presented in the petitions, 
and denounced the policy of forcing men by unjust restric- 
tions to hold slaves in bondage, contrary to the dictates of 
conscience and humanity. The committee proposed a law 
preventing the separation of husband and wife. They 
also say : 

^ I am indebted for these facts and others to the address of the Hon. 
Horace Maynard, delivered at Nashville, July 4, 1863, kindly furnished to 
me by Colonel John B. Brownlow. 

Slavery in the State of Tennessee. Ill 

* * Your committee are of the opinion that it is worthy 
the consideration of the legislature to examine into the 
policy of providing for the emancipation of those yet un- 
born, [Signed] J. Peck, Chairman.^ ^ ^ 

This is only one more proof of the strong anti-slavery 
feeling prevailing in the state from 1815 to 1824. There 
is no evidence that this feeling died out for many years 
after this time. Between that time and 1834, we have not 
so much historical evidence in the way of public or private 
documents to prove the existence of this sentiment. But 
we are not wholly without proof. It is within the mem- 
ory, no doubt, of old citizens that some time between those 
dates a public meeting was held in Knoxville by its lead- 
ing citizens in favor of emancipation. While the names 
of these citizens can not be given in full, some of them can 
be recalled, and among them Samuel B. Bodgers and Dr. 
W. J. Baker, both Presbyterians, and both then or after- 
ward slave-owners. Baker, when the civil war came on, 
espoused the Confederate cause, while Bodgers adhered 
unflinchingly to the Union. 

But the journal of the Constitutional Convention of 
Tennessee, which convened in 1834 to amend the constitu- 
tion, furnishes full and plenary proof of the strength of 
the anti-slavery feeling, particularly in East Tennessee, 
even at that late day, when the two antagonistic forces in 
reference to slavery were becoming fiercely arrayed against 
each other on the floor of the lower house of congress. 
Between 1796, the date of the first constitution, and 1834, 
the date of the constitution under consideration, slavery 
had become an important interest in the state. The num- 
ber of slaves had grown from 10,613 to 150,000, as esti- 
mated by the convention. During this time the rich cot- 
ton lands of Middle and West Tennessee had been opened 
up and largely brought into cultivation. 

^ Judge Peck was a citiien of Jefferson county, East Tennessee, and 
lived until 1870, being then aged about ninety years. 

112 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

During the first week of the session of the convention, 
Mr. Terry H. Cahal presented the petition of * 'sundry cit- 
izens of Maury county" (one of the rich cotton counties 
of the state, and at that time the home of James K. Polk) , 
**on the subject of emancipation." Other similar petitions 
were afterward presented from the counties of Robertson, 
Lincoln, Bedford, Overton, Roane, Rhea, Knox, Monroe, 
McMinn, Blount, Sevier, Cocke, JefiFerson, Greene, and 
Washington, praying '*that all the slaves shall [should] 
be made free against the year 1866." The signers num- 
bered upward of 1,800, of whom more than one hundred 
were slaveholders.* 

During the second week of the convention, Mathew 
Stephenson, a farmer of Washington county, Tennessee, 
introduced this resolution : 

"That a committee of thirteen, one from each congre^ 
sional district, be appointed to take into consideration the 
propriety of designating some period from which slavery 
shall not be tolerated in this state, and that all memorials 
on that subject that have or may be presented to the con- 
vention be referred to said committee, to consider and re- 
port thereon." (Journal, p. 53.) 

A few days later, this resolution was taken up, on mo- 
tion of Mr. John McGaughey, of Greene, when Mr. Adam 
Huntsman moved to lay it on the table until the first day 
of the ensuing January, which motion prevailed by a vote 
of 38 yeas to 20 nays. As the day named was beyond the 
time that the convention would be in session, it was in 
effect an adverse decision on the proposition. The nays 
were Messrs. W. B. Carter, of Carter, president of the 
convention; Hugh C. Armstrong, of Overton; Richard 
Bradshaw, of Jefferson ; Willie Blount (formerly governor 
of the state) , of Montgomery ; Robert L. Cobb, of Maury ; 
James Gillespie, of Blount ; James L. Greene, of Roane ; 
Isaac Hill, of Warren ; John Kelley, of Marion ; Bradley 

^ Address of Mr. Ma3aiard, before referred to, page 110. 

Slavery in the State of Termesaee. 113 

Eimbrongh, of Monroe ; Robert J. McKinney, of Greene ; 
Joseph A. Mabry, of Knox ; John McGaughey, of Greene ; 
John Neal, of McMinn ; William C. Roadman, of Cocke ; 
Mathew Stephenson, of Washington ; William T. Senter, 
of Rhea ; William C. Smart, of Warren ; Henry Sharp, of 
Lawrence ; and Isaac Walton, of Sumner. 

It is remarkable that the several members whose nativity 
had been in some of the free ataies all voted^ says Mr. Maynard 
in his address, in favor of laying the resolution on the table. 
This was in keeping with what was largely the case during 
the late civil war, in East Tennessee, at least, namely, a 
large part, possibly a majority of Northern born citizens 
became ultra-friends and advocates of secession, and often 
the most bitter ones. 

It will be observed that thirteen of these twenty mem- 
bers who were prima fade in favor of emancipation were 
from East Tennessee. It will be observed further that of 
the sixteen counties from which petitions were sent to the 
convention, praying for the emancipation of slaves, eleven 
were in East Tennessee, a proportion greatly larger than 
that of the counties of Middle and West Tennessee praying 
for the same thing. 

The champion of this cause in the convention was 
Mathew Stephenson, of Washington county, a most worthy 
man, who the next year was the unsuccessful opponent of 
Andrew Johnson in his first race for a seat in the legisla- 
ture for Greene and Washington counties. Mr. Stephen- 
son was ably seconded in his eflForts by Robert J. McKin- 
ney, a rising young Scotch-Irish lawyer from Greene 
county, who afterward achieved great eminence as a 
lawyer, and won high distinction as a profound and 
learned jurist on the bench of the supreme court of the 
state at the time of its greatest renown. He was also 
warmly aided by John McGaughey, of Greene county, and 
by Joseph A. Mabry, a large slaveholder from Knox county. 
Of all these men, many of whom I knew, only two were 

114 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

alive when the civil war came on in 1861, namely, John 
McGaughey and Judge McKinney. Both survived the 
war for several years. Both were good men and good 
citizens — ^far beyond most men. The former remained 
true to the Union, while the latter cast his lot with the 

The most significant fact connected with this question in 
the convention is, that the majority felt called on to ex- 
plain their action to the public. Surely we of this day, 
who were familiar with the arrogance of the slave power 
in the latter days of its dominance, can scarcely realize 
that, in 1834, it should have humbled itself by stooping to 
explain why it voted against prospective emancipation. 
There must have been behind these twenty men a much 
stronger anti-slavery sentiment in the state than we can 
possibly realize to-day. Feeble minorities, standing al- 
most alone, often explain their votes; great majorities, 
backed by overwhelming odds, seldom or never do. 

On motion of Mr. Allen, of Smith, the following resolu- 
tion was adopted : 

* 'Resolved, That a committee of three (one from each di- 
vision of the state) be appointed to draft the reasons that 
governed this convention, in declining to act upon the 
memorials on the subject of slavery." 

Messrs. John A. McKinney, Grodfrey M. Fogg and Adam 
Huntsman, the two former being the most eminent lawyers 
in the state, were appointed as this committee. Huntsman 
was also a good lawyer, and afterward won great notoriety 
in the state as a successful candidate for congress against 
the celebrated and lamented David Crockett. 

Mr. McKinney, as chairman, submitted afterwards a 
very able and ingenious report. The deplorable condition 
of the free persons of color in the state was alleged as the 
main basis of the opposition to emancipation. On this 
point, the report said among other things : 

'*The condition of a free man of color, surrounded by 
persons of a different caste and complexion, is the most 

Slavery in the State of Tennessee. 115 

forlorn and wretched that can be imagined. He is a 
stranger in the land of his nativity ; he is an outcast in 
the place of his residence — ^he has scarcely a motive to 
prompt him to virtuous action, or to stimulate him to hon- 
orable exertion. At every turn and corner of the walks of 
life, he is beset with temptations strong — ^nay, almost irre- 
sistible — ^to the force of which in most cases he may be ex- 
pected to yield, the consequence of which must be that he 
will be degraded, despised and trampled upon by the rest 
of the community. When the free man of color is op- 
pressed by the proud, or circumvented by the cunning, or 
betrayed by those in whom he reposed confidence, do the 
laws of the land afford him more than a nominal protec- 
tion? Denied his oath in a court of justice, unable to call 
any of his own color to be witnesses, if the injury he com- 
plains of has been committed by a white man, how many 
of his wrongs must remain unredressed — ^how many of his 
rights be violated with impunity — ^how poor a boon does 
he receive when receiving freedom, if what he receives can 
be called by that name? Unenviable as is the condition 
of the slave, unlovely as slavery is in all its aspects, bitter 
as the draught that the slave is doomed to drink, never- 
theless his condition is better than that of a free man of 
color in the midst of a community of white men, with 
whom he has no common interest, no fellow feeling, no 
equality. If the slave is sick, he has a master or mistress 
whose own interest will prompt to furnish him with food 
and medicine, and attendance suited to his situation ; but 
when the free man of color is laid upon a bed of sickness, 
who cares for him, what hand supplies his wants, who will 
step to his humble bed of straw and feel his pulse, or in- 
quire into the symptoms of his disease, or even hand him 
a cup of cold water to allay his thirst? • • • The slave 
is almost always exempt from care. When his day's 
work is done, he lies down and sleeps soundly ; if the crops 
are destroyed by mildew or blasting, his peace of mind is 
not disturbed thereby ; and when old age overtakes him. 

116 East Tennessee a/nd the Civil Wwr. 

and his limbs require rest, and his hands can work no 
longer in his master's house, the law has provided him 
with a home and secured him a maintenance. He knows 
not at any time what it is to have his children ask for 
bread when he has none to give them ; they, too, are pro- 
vided for. But who supplies the wants of the free man of 
color when old age overtakes him and he is unable to pro- 
vide for himself? He has to contend with all the ills of 
poverty, aggravated by a sense of his own degraded situa- 
tion, compared with those around him." 

Then the explanation insists that the proposed emanci- 
pation would result in the expatriation of the slaves ; that 
they would be transported for sale, or for use, to the 
Southern States of Mississippi, Louisiana or Arkansas, to 
be held as slaves. It also argues that the slaves in Ten- 
nessee were kindly treated, not overworked, and that the 
system of slavery here was as mild as in any part of the 

This was indeed a gloomy, but a truthful picture of the 
condition of the free colored people of that day, much of 
which is true of them at this day, notwithstanding the 
glories of the latter half of this century. But it is 
worthy of remark, that while the main objection urged 
against emancipation was the degraded condition of the 
colored people already free, this convention degraded them 
still lower, by taking from them the only insignia of 
honorable citizenship, conferred on them by the fathers of 
the state, in the constitution of 1796-— the qualified right 
to vote. 

I quote a few more sentences, not in their order, to show 
what were the sentiments of slaveholders, and men speak- 
ing for slaveholders, in Tennessee, in 1834 : 

''But the friends of humanity need not despair; the 
memorialists need not dread that slavery will be perpetual 
in our highly favored country. Providence has already 
opened a door of hope, which is every day opening wider 
and wider. . . . The ministers of our holy religion 

Sla/very in the State of Tennessee. 117 

will knock at the doors of the hearts of the owners of 
slaves, telling every one to let his bondsman and his bonds- 
woman go free, and to send them back to the land of their 
forefathers, and the voice of the holy men will be heard 
and obeyed. • . . In this way, under the approving 
smile of Heaven, and the fostering care of Providence, 
slavery will yet be extinguished in a way that will work 
no evil to the white man, while it produces the happiest 
effects on the whole American race. The last thirty years 
have produced a great change in public sentiment on this 
subject, and it can not be doubted that the next thirty 
years will produce a still greater one, ... So a pre- 
mature attempt on the part of the benevolent to get rid of 
the evils of slavery would certainly have the effect of post- 
poning to a far distant day the accomplishment of an event 
devoutly and ardently desired by the wise and the good in 
every part of our beloved country."* 

And now followed a prolonged controversy, most unusual 
and most remarkable, between the friends of emancipation 
and the apologists. The lengthy and able apology pre- 
sented by Mr. McKinney speaking as chairman for the 
majority of the convention, called forth an earnest and 
able protest from Mathew Stephenson and Messrs. Mc- 
Gaughey, Bradshaw and Gillespie. Against the specious 
defense of slavery they appealed to the principles of Chris- 
tianity and common humanity. Then followed another pro- 
test of marked ability from Dr. Joseph Kincaid, of Bedford 
county. This paper answers with great force and clear- 
ness the argument made by the majority, that a state of 
slavery was better than the * 'forlorn and wretched" con- 
dition of the free man of color in the state. 

Then followed a supplemental report from the committee, 
fortifying and defending the positions assumed in the first 
report. This called forth a second protest from brave 
Mathew Stephenson and his associates. All these papers 

» " Journal," pp. 92, «3. 

118 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

were placed on the journal, as if both sides were appealing 
to posterity. We can scarcely realize that this calm and 
dispassionate discussion of the evils of slavery (for both 
sides admitted this) took place in a Southern state at as 
late a date as 1834, when we remember how sensitive the 
South became a few years later on this subject. 

In justice to the memory of Mr. John A. McKinney, the 
able author of the apologies, it should be stated that he 
was a pure and an upright man, a native of the North 
of Ireland, a Covenanter Presbyterian, who by his indus- 
try and great ability as a lawyer left a large fortune, and 
the heritage of a good name to his children. 

Having failed in their efforts to secure prospective eman- 
cipation, the friends of the measure tried to strip slavery of 
some of its prestige and power. Mr. Mabry, of Knox, in- 
troduced the following proposition : 

"Resolved, That the present Constitution of the State of 
Tennessee be so amended as to prevent and prohibit the 
sale of slaves or people of color by virtue of executions founded 
on all contracts made and entered into after the first day of 
January, 1835." 

This proposition failed. The obvious effect of its adop- 
tion would have been to diminish the value and desirability 
of slaves, and greatly to lessen the transfers of this kind 
of property. 

Mathew Stephenson offered a proviso ''that no free man 
who is now a resident of this state, and who has hereto- 
fore exercised the right of voting, shall be debarred from 
that privilege." Voted down 35 to 22. 

The convention instead of seeking to ameliorate the ''for- 
lorn" condition of free persons of color, as portrayed in 
the apology, by conferring on them the right to hold office, 
to sit on juries, and to testify in courts of justice, took 
away from such as were then freeholders the right to vote 
conferred on them by the constitution of 1796, and limited 

Slavery in the State of Tennessee. 119 

suffrage to **free white men."* And to effectually close 
the door against emancipation, and to provide a further 
safeguard for slavery, the following clause was put into the 
constitution : 

'*The general assembly shall have no power to pass laws 
for the emancipation of slaves without the consent of their 
owner or owners." 

Thus the delusive hope and promise held out by the 
committee, speaking for the majority of the convention, 
that slavery would not be ''perpetual," was falsified, and 
the door to emancipation closed and barred apparently for- 
ever. Slavery was already protected by the Constitution 
of the United States, a4l now it was securely enthroned 
in that of Tennessee, from which it could only be dislodged 
by the slaveholders themselves. But in the course of time 
infatuated men arose who cast away the first safeguard, 
and thereby lost the second. The slaveholders, in an evil 
hour, challenged to battle a people as brave as they, of 
infinitely larger resources, and of nearly three times their 
numbers. With incredible folly, they threw away all the 
sacred guarantees which slavery possessed, and in the 
deadly conflict which followed, as many wise men had 
foreseen and predicted, slavery perished. 

Soon after the events I have been relating, the anti- 
slavery current, which had been running so strongly for 
the past twenty years in favor of emancipation, in parts 
of the South, turned back in its course, and was lost in 
the maelstrom of slavery propagandism. Men who had 
once clamored for emancipation were either hushed into 
silence, or eagerly followed the swelling current of South- 
ern thought. Many men who had denounced slavery, away 
back in emancipation days, now hastened to set themselves 

^ Journal, p. 76. Those who voted against restricting the right to vote to 
white men were : Messrs. Allen, Armstrong, Gillespie, Gray, Hill, Kincannon, 
Kincaid, Kelley, Rohert J. McKinney, Mahry, McGaughey, Montgomery, 
Neil, Roadman, Richardson, Robertson, Stephenson, Smith, Smart, ScoU, 
Walton, White, and Webster. 

120 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

right with their neighbors by purchasing slaves. Every 
voice, every whisper of opposition to slavery, was silenced. 
Universal acquiescence, if not universal approval and advo- 
cacy, succeeded. If a few doubted, if a few still had con- 
scientious scruples as to the system, they were hushed into 
silence in the dread of an overpowering public opinion. No 
man in the South was bold enough to open his lips in op- 
position to slavery. No man dared to suggest any longer 
either its amelioration, much less its extinction. To be 
suspected of abolition sentiments, was to bring on one's 
self the curse of social outlawry ; to become as a loathsome 
leper shunned by every one. The boldest men who had 
had scruples on the moral side df^the question stood petri- 
fied and confounded in the presence of this omnipotent des- 
potism of public opinion. By it, all resistance was crushed 
out. Only one parallel to this can be found in all history. 
In the dark ages, the thunders of the Vatican often caused 
the proudest princes and potentates to shake and tremble, 
and to bow in humble and abject submission. So, the 
anathemas of this imperial power. Slavery, like the terri- 
ble curse of the Church of Rome, made the boldest men 
stand aghast, breathless and trembling, in apprehension of 
some awful evil. 

*' Then wakes the power which in the age of iron 
Burst forth to curb the great and raise the low ; 
Mark where she stands! — around her form I draw 
The awful circle of our solemn Church 1 
Set but a foot within the holy ground, 
And on thy head — yea, though it wore a crown— 
I launch the curse of Rome." ^ 

^ The supersensitiveness of slaveholders as to slavery was not unnatural. 
They had to guard it against attack, whether from without or within, with 
the utmost vigilance. They could, therefore, tolerate no discussion of its 
moral aspects, much less opposition to it, without danger of the most se- 
rious consequences. These things may and do prove the inherent weak- 
ness of the institution. Nevertheless, it would have continued to exist 
for generations longer but for the mighty convulsions of the war. Through 
them was fulfilled God's purpose. 



Political Canvass in 1860. 121 



Excitement in political parties in 1860— Old parties disintegrating— Whig 
National Convention assembles — Nominates John Bell for president — 
Declares for the preservation of the Union — John Bell — Democratic 
National (convention— Splits on the platform— Stephen A. Douglas-* 
Reassembles in Baltimore- One wing nominates Douglas, the other 
John C. Breckenridge— Republican party nominates Abraham Lin- 
coln — Mr. Seward — Mr. Lincoln's Springfield speech — Man of destiny — 
Slavery in the territories— Presidential canvass in Tennessee— Three 
tickets in the field— James D. Thomas— State votes for Mr. Bell- 
Mr. Lincoln elected president— Gloomy forebodings in the public 
mind— South Carolina prepares to leave the Union— Uncertainty in 
the public mind following election of Mr. Lincoln — Active work 
done in Washington in favor of secession — Three members of Bu- 
chanan's cabinet active secessionists — General Scott ignored— Failure 
to strengthen forts in Charleston Harbor — Major Anderson placed in 
command there — Asks for re-enforcements — None sent — South Carolina 
secedes— Great joy in Charleston— Commissioners sent to Washington 
to adjust differences — Mr. Buchanan's embarrassment and vacillar 
tion— Major Anderson occupies Fort Sumter— Storm of indignation 
in Charleston created by it— Haughty conduct of commissioners — 
Holty Stanton and Black in the cabinet—'* Star of the West " sent to 
Charleston with troops and provisions — Driven off— The Harriet Lane 
with provisions fails to land — Mr. Buchanan's message to congress — 
'' No power to coerce a sovereign state." 

In the spring and early summer of 1860 all thoughtful 
and intelligent men felt that great events were approach- 
ing. The people of the Northern states were excited as 
never before. The repeal of the Missouri Compromise 
and the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill had mad- 
dened them into a phrenzy. This feeling had been in- 
tensified by the attempt made immediately afterwards by 
the slaveholders of the South to introduce slavery into 
Kansas. The excitement in the South, especially in the 
cotton states, was not less intense than it was in the 
North. The ultra slaveholders were disappointed, and 

122 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

became desperate at their signal failure to secure Kansas. 
Besides this, they saw that their control of the national 
government, which they had held much the larger part of 
the time since its establishment, was slipping away from 
them. This still further inflamed their discontent. 

In the meantime old political parties were disintegrat- 
ing and new alliances were being formed. Old party lines 
were melting away. The Whig party had lost strength 
both in the North and in the South. It was too conserva- 
tive and staid for those stirring times. The Democratic 
party was divided, hopelessly it proved to be, into two 
factions, one led by Stephen A. Douglas, and the other by 
such ultra Southern men as Davis, Toombs and Benjamin. 
The Republican party, young, vigorous and hopeful, led 
by Seward, Greeley and other great men, was making itself 
felt in every Northern state. It was attracting recruits 
from both the old parties, and especially from the Whig 
party, from which it had already drawn many of its 
greatest leaders. In fact, the gathering tide of Repub- 
licanism was sweeping over the whole North and West. 

Under these circumstances the last Whig National Con- 
vention assembled in Baltimore, May 9, 1860, to nominate 
candidates for president and vice-president. The conven- 
tion was respectable in size and ability. All the Northern 
states were represented, though not so numerously as in 
later days, while several of the Southern states had only 
small delegations. Tennessee had a large and distinguished 
delegation. Such men as Balie Peyton, Ex-Governor Neill 
S. Brown, Jordan Stokes, Judge John S. Brien, W. G. 
Brownlow, Henry Cooper, afterward the successful com- 
petitor of Andrew Johnson for the United States Senate, 
Gustavus A. Henry, afterward a senator in the Confederate 
Congress, John M. Fleming and many others were present. 
They were there in the interest of their distinguished 
fellow-citizen, John Bell for the nomination for the 

The convention seemed to be deeply impressed with the 

Political Canvass in 1860. 123 

solemnity and the peril of the crisis which threatened the 
government. In the presence, therefor, of such alarming 
dangers, ignoring all ordinary questions of mere policy, 
and looking alone to the great problem of saying the 
Union, the convention unanimously adopted a platform 
embracing that idea only, in these words: '*The Union, 
the constitution, and the enforcement of the laws." This 
was adopted in the midst of the wildest enthusiasm. Then 
followed the nominations. Mr. Bell was nominated for 
the presidency without much difficulty, and Edward Ever- 
ett for the vice-presidency with even less difficulty. This 
was followed by the usual speechmaking. As Mr. Bell 
was from Tennessee, it was expected, and naturally too, 
that her delegates should be heard from. Mr. Gustavus 
A. Henry went forward to speak for the state. He was a 
handsome, magnificent man physically, His voice was 
musical and sonorous ; his manner that of a finished orator. 
He was eloquent, fascinating, charming. For such an 
occasion, no man in all the land was his superior. From 
the beginning, he electrified the convention. Finally, in a 
grand climax of dramatic oratory, he declared his willing- 
ness to die for the Union. He said, with marvelous eflfect, 
that for this purpose he would ascend the scaffold with as 
joyous a heart and as light a step as a bridegroom ascend- 
ing to his bridal chamber. The convention became wild 
with enthusiasm. And yet, eighteen months after that 
time, Henry took his seat as a senator from Tennessee in 
the Confederate Congress I And in twelve months, John 
Bell, who had just been nominated as the distinctively 
Union candidate for the presidency, made a speech declar- 
ing his adhesion to the Confederate cause I 

After Henry had concluded and silence was restored, 
Mr. Hillard, of Boston, came forward to answer for Mr. 
Everett and Massachusetts. His speech, while not so 
florid as Henry's, was chaste, scholarly, and surpassingly 
beautiful. Seldom has a more elegant and perfect im- 
promptu address ever been made. It, too, aroused great 

124 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

enthusiasm. Thus the work of the convention was fin- 

With the exception of Jno, J. Crittenden, of Kentucky, 
Governor Hunt, James A. Brooks, and Henry J, Raymond, 
from New York, Mr. Hilliard, of Massachusetts, A. H. H. 
Stuart and Robert Ridgeway, from Virginia, Jesse Clem- 
ents, from Alabama, Judge Sharkey, of Mississippi, and 
Balie Peyton, Governor Brown, and Mr, Henry, from Ten- 
nessee, and Mr. Doolittle, from Wisconsin, but few of the 
great leaders of the old Whig party were present. In the 
North and West, most of them had already joined or were 
preparing to join the Republican party. In the Southern 
States, many of them were disheartened by recent defeats, 
or hesitated as to their duty, or were preparing to change 
party alliances. So, the Baltimore Convention, while 
quite respectable in numbers and ability, was not of that 
imposing character calculated to inspire confidence and 
enthusiasm in the country. It is doubtful whether a 
single well-informed delegate had a settled belief in the 
success of the ticket just nominated. Of course, in the 
then chaotic state of the public mind, no one could tell 
what might happen. There was a hope that the clear and 
distinct Union platform adopted by the convention might 
so strike the patriotic feeling of the country, so appeal to 
the sober judgments of good citizens, as to secure the elec- 
tion of the candidates nominated. But this proved to be 
a vain hope. Madness and passion, and not pure patriot- 
ism, ruled the hour. Mr. Bell only carried four states, 
namely, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, and Maryland. 

Judging by subsequent events, it is doubtful whether 
Mr. Bell would have been the right man for the times, if 
he had been elected. His honesty, his great ability and 
his statesmanship were unquestioned. But there was in 
him a want of that decision, that force of character, that 
moral courage, necessary for a leader and ruler in perilous 
times. No prompt and decisive action could have been 
expected of him in a great emergency. He, in all proba- 

Political Canvass in 1860. 125 

bility, would have hesitated at the critical moment. His 
Southern home and associations would have fettered and 
paralyzed him. He would not, however, have been false 
to the country. Whether the Southern States would 
have attempted to secede immediately if he had been 
elected, can not be told ; but almost certainly they would 
not. That the Southern leaders intended to do so at the 
first favorable opportunity admits of no doubt whatever. 
They simply awaited such a pretext as the election of a 
sectional president, like Mr. Lincoln, when they could 
plausibly appeal to the people of the South to arise in de- 
fense of their rights and institutions. His election, there- 
fore, produced a most profound impression throughout the 
South. Although it was anticipated, and the course to be 
pursued in that event had been predetermined and was 
generally well understood by the original leaders in the 
Southern movement, yet when brought face to face with 
the great question of destroying the old government, even 
the boldest of its advocates, we may believe, hesitated a 
little before taking the first fatal step in that direction. 
Those not in the plot, both North and South, were ap- 
palled, and turned pale with fear at the dark and gloomy 
prospect. And we can readily believe from his utterances, 
that no man in all the land realized more sensibly than 
Mr. Lincoln himself the awful gravity of the great crisis 
and the extreme peril of the country. 

That the Southern leaders intended to be satisfied with 
nothing less than the indorsement of their extreme views 
by the National Democratic Convention, which assembled 
in Charleston on the 23d of April, 1860, was manifest from 
the opening of that body. The friends of Mr. Douglas 
were in the majority. By the adoption of a moderate 
platform on the subject of slavery, there was a fair chance 
of electing him as president. His friends were willing to 
adopt a simple declaration in their platform that ''the 
Democratic party will abide by the decisions of the Su- 
preme Court of the United States upon questions of con- 

126 East Tennessee a/nd the Civil War. 

stitutional law," The Dred Scott decision had already 
been made by the court, and it conceded everything to the 
South, though that decision was everywhere assailed in 
the North. The anti-Douglas delegation demanded a dec- 
laration of the **rights of citizens to settle in the territo- 
ries with their slaves — a right not to be destroyed or im- 
paired by congressional or territorial legislation." They 
demanded a further declaration that it is the * *duty of the 
federal government, when necessary, to protect slavery in 
the territories." These positions were in direct antag- 
onism to Mr. Douglas's famous **squatter sovereignty" 
doctrine, that the people residing in any of the territories 
of the United States have the right, not merely when 
forming a state constitution, but at any time, to establish 
or prohibit slavery, as they might choose. The Southern 
leaders would not yield. Mr. Douglas's friends could not 
without destroying the last hope of carrying any Northern 
State for him. So, the convention divided, a minority of 
the members, the ultra wing, finally withdrawing. On 
the 3d of May the convention adjourned over until the 
18th of June, to reconvene in Baltimore. On reassem- 
bling in that city, finding the differences in the party to be 
irreconcilable, the delegates again divided. The Southern 
wing, with the delegates of California and Oregon and a 
few scattering votes from the North, including Benjamin 
F. Butler and Caleb B. Cushing, nominated John C. Breck- 
inridge for president, and Joseph Lane, of Oregon, for 
vice-president. The delegates from the Northern States 
nominated Stephen A. Douglas, and Herschel V. Johnson, 
of Georgia. 

It was manifest to all well-informed minds that, with 
two Democratic candidates in the field, there could be but 
little hope of the election of either. Douglas must draw 
his entire strength from the North, and Breckinridge 
nearly or quite all of his from the South. That which 
could be obtained by either would not be sufficient for an 

Political Canvass in 1860. 127 

Before the reassembling of the Democratic party in 
Baltimore, the Republican party had met in convention in 
Chicago, It drew together a vast throng of excited and 
determined men. Among these were many distinguished 
names, who had separated themselves from the two old 
political parties. This was particularly so in reference to 
the Whig party. The two most prominent candidates be- 
fore the convention were William H. Seward and Abraham 
Ldncoln. Both were formerly honored leaders of the Whig 
party. Indeed, Mr, Lincoln had only recently attached 
himself to the Republican party. His fame rested almost 
entirely on his celebrated debates with Mr. Douglas. In 
these debates he had suddenly sprung to the front as a 
great speaker, skillful and resourceful, a profound thinker 
and a courageous man. 

It was generally expected that Mr. Seward would re- 
ceive the nomination. He had been a noted leader and al- 
most the founder of his party. He was a man of acknowl- 
edged ability and of ripe experience. But he had uttered 
sentiments, such as that of an irrepressible conflict between 
freedom and slavery, that were in advance of the times. 
More recently in his great speech at Springfield, Illinois, 
June 17, 1858, Mr. Lincoln had proclaimed doctrines just 
as extreme, if not more so. He had said 'Hhat a house 
divided against itself can not stand ;"^ 'Hhat the gov- 
ernment can not endure permanently half slave, half 
free. ... It will become all one thing, or all the 
other.'* *'He did not expect the Union to be dissolved," 
he said, but he left his hearers to determine whether it 
would be all free, or all slave. This speech struck an 
electrical chord in the North and made him president. 

The impossibility of slavery ever being introduced 
into the Northern States was too plain to be doubted by 
any one familiar with the sentiment of that section. There- 
fore, the other alternative presented was inevitable ; that 

> Hemdon's " Life of Lincoln," Vol. II, p. 396. 

128 East Tennessee arid the Civil Wa/r. 

the country must become all free. Yet Mr. ^ncoln was 
never classed as an Abolitionist, and in fact was not one. 
On the first ballot Mr. Seward received 175i votes, Mr. 
Lincoln 102, and 190 votes were scattered between Bates, 
Chase, Cameron, Dayton, McLean and CoUamer. On th6 
the second ballot Mr. Seward had 184i votes, and Mr. 
Lincoln 181. On the third ballot Mr. Lincoln was 
unanimously nominated. Thus was this singular man of 
destiny placed at the head of a great party at the most 
critical time in the history of the country. And thus was 
made probable the fulfillment of the boastful prophecy of 
Mary Todd, made years before, while Mr. Lincoln was an 
obscure village lawyer, that she, as the president's wife, 
would some day occupy the White House. And thus, Mr. 
Lincoln was about to become the instrument in the hands 
of Providence of the fulfillment of his own memorable 
prophecy, that the "government can not endure per- 
manently half free, half slave — ^it will become all one 
thing, or all the other." 

There were now four candidates in the field for the presi- 
dency, Mr. Lincoln, Mr. Bell, Mr. Douglas and Mr. Breck- 
enridge. Mr. Bell was the only one who was nominated 
by a convention composed of delegates from all the states. 
He was emphatically the only national candidate. All 
the others were either exclusively sectional in their nomi- 
nation, or in the support they received. Mr. Lincoln was 
clearly a sectional candidate, though he received, remark- 
able to say, several thousand votes at the polls in some of 
the border slave states. Mr. Breckenridge represented a 
sectional idea, and received but little support outside of his 
section. And while Mr. Douglas stood on a national 
platform, he was nominated by and received nearly all of 
his support from one section alone. 

The settlement of the slavery controversy in Kansas, 
settled the question for all practical purposes as to all the ter- 
ritories, unless there should be new acquisitions thereafter. 
There was no more territory where slavery would have 

Political Canvass in 1860. 129 

gone, even if unopposed, because slave labor would not 
have been profitable. Climate, a higher law than congres- 
sional enactments, as Mr. Webster had pointed out in 1860, 
in reference to New Mexico, in his famous 7th of March 
speech, had interdicted it by eternal decrees in all the re- 
maining territories of the United States. So, all the 
quarrel over slavery in the territories had become a mere 
political abstraction. It was so in 1860, and the leaders 
of all parties knew it. 

In Tennessee, three electoral tickets were put in the field ; 
one for Bell, one for Mr. Breckenridge and one for Mr. 
Douglas. The contest was, however, between Mr. Bell and 
Mr. Breckenridge. Mr. Douglas had a few friends, who 
supported him because they were alarmed at the menacing 
attitude of the Breckenridge Democracy, and yet who, from 
old partisan feelings, were unwilling to support Mr. Bell. 
Therefore, they made a feeble effort for Mr. Douglas, and 
threw away, as they knew they were doing, their votes 
on him. The Bell electoral ticket was headed by the veteran 
Whig, Balie Peyton, who had made a national reputation as 
early as 1837-^8 as the associate and friend of S. S. Pren- 
tiss and Henry A. Wise in their daring assaults on the ad- 
ministration of Mr. Van Buren. Peyton was a noble 
chevalier of the olden times — ^brilliant, brave, honorable. 
On the ticket for the state at large with him was Nathaniel 
G. Taylor, who, on great occasions and when aroused, was 
a very eloquent speaker. 

The contest in Tennessee was heated and excited. The 
Breckenridge Democrats everywhere charged that the in- 
stitution of slavery would be endangered by the election of 
Mr. Lincoln, and that it would be in but little less danger 
by the election of Mr. Bell or Mr. Douglas. They assailed 
Mr. Bell as an enemy of the South. They charged and 
dwelt on the fact that the *' Black Republican Party," as 
they called it, was a purely sectional party, organized 
solely on the idea of opposition to slavery. Strange iur 

130 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

consistency, when their own party was purely sectional in 
its principles, and had received nearly all its support in the 
nominating convention, and was then receiving before the 
people its support from one section alone. In the cotton 
states it was openly proclaimed that the election of Mr. 
Lincoln would be a sufficient cause and should be the sig- 
nal for withdrawing from the Union. In Tennessee, the 
leaders were more guarded in their declarations on this* 
point. But the thin gauze which covered their real views 
was too transpariBnt to hide them. In the second district, 
contrary to my wishes, I was chosen as the candidate for 
elector on the Bell-Everett ticket. I had been a delegate 
to the Baltimore Convention, and had done all I could ta 
secure the nomination of this ticket. I was a personal 
friend of Mr. Bell, and bound to him by strong obliga- 
tions. Therefore, while reluctant to give up for the time 
being my business as a lawyer, I could not decline to 
serve. Besides this, I had become seriously impressed, 
beyond most men, with a sense of the danger to the Union, 
arising from the designs of Southern leaders, and felt it to 
be my duty to sound the alarm as far as I could in my 
humble sphere. 

The Breckenridge elector in the district was James D. 
Thomas, who was also a lawyer. He had been a delegate 
to the Baltimore Convention, which had nominated Mr. 
Breckenridge. He came back in full sympathy and 
thoroughly saturated with the views and feelings of the 
Southern wing of the Democratic party. Mr. Thomas was 
a college graduate and had been a teacher in an academy. 
He had also been a successful lawyer. His voice was deep 
and clear, and his manner rather animated, though never 
too hurried. His intellect was clear, strong and penetrat- 
ing. He was wary, shrewd and logical. Withal, he was 
cunning and artful. He possessed talents, both as a poli- 
tician and as a lawyer, that ought to have given him high 
rank in life. He was a competitor of no mean powers. 
To meet him required constant watchfulness and the fullest 

Political Canvass of 1860. 131 


information. After an exciting canvass, a majority of the 
people of Tennessee cast their votes for Mr. Bell. 

The electors assembled in Nashville, December 6th, at the 
time fixed by law, and organized the electoral college by 
the selection of the venerable Balie Peyton as president. 
The vote of the state was then duly cast for John Bell as 
president and Edward Everett for vice-president, and im- 
mediately forwarded to Washington. This was a time of 
great gloom. No man could tell what was to happen. 
All felt the near presence of danger and disaster. At a 
conference held by the electors, it was proposed that they 
should issue an address to the people of the state, warn- 
ing them of the approaching danger, and urging them to 
stand firm against all the designs of the enemies of the 
Union. John F. House opposed the suggestion, and Hon. 
Henry S. Foote, who happened to be present, favored it. 
The suggestion met with little favor, so the matter was 

At this meeting, for the first time, I began to apprehend 
the danger there was that the large slaveholding interests 
of Middle and West Tennessee might exert a baneful influ- 
ence on public sentiment, and on the minds of the Union 
leaders in those sections. This came to pass as I feared, 
and became most disastrous a few months later. It was 
already evident that the election of Mr. Lincoln, and 
probably still more so, the threatening action of South 
Carolina, had made them wary and cautious as to any 
immediate committals in reference to the future. This 
was a surprise to me, for I had come to regard the dissolu- 
tion of the Union as a calamity far greater than any other 
which could possibly happen. I was therefore astonished 
to find that others were unwilling to avow this high view 
of devotion to the country. 

The echoes of the great battle of 1860 had not died away 
before it became evident that a still fiercer conflict was im- 
pending. The lull which usually follows a presidential 
election was soon rudely broken by the action of South 

132 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

Carolina. The legislature of that state assembled earlj 
in November to choose presidential electors, that right 
never having been confided to the people. It at once pro- 
vided for the election of delegates to a convention to be 
assembled on the 17th of December, to consider the ques- 
tion of secession. Everybody knew about as well in 
November as after the act was accomplished that South 
Carolina would attempt to secede from the Union in De- 
cember. Nearly all of her leading men were pledged to 
do so. The public mind was in a state of deep suspense. 
A restless uneasiness prevailed among the people. No 
one knew certainly what calamity was to follow. The Re- 
publican party of the North had been so constantly and so 
bitterly denounced by Democratic orators and by some 
Whigs as Abolitionists and enemies of the country, that 
many of the conservative men who had voted for Mr. BeU 
were more or less alarmed. 

In this state of public sentiment, while attending court 
in Sevier county, in the third week of November, by re- 
quest probably, I addressed a large assemblage of the 
people of that county on the condition of the country. It 
was well known that South Carolina would withdraw from 
the Union in a few days. In my speech I reviewed the 
questions affecting the South, and warned the people that 
they might expect an attempt to destroy the government. 
I denounced secession as being wholly causeless and un- 
justifiable — as no remedy for any existing evil — ^and 
urged them to stand firm in their loyalty to the govern- 
ment. This was the first Union speech made in the state 
after the election of Mr. Lincoln. On the conclusion of 
my speech, a vote of thanks was given to me, and a com- 
mittee appointed to request a copy for publication. This 
was not given until the 1st of January, 1861, when it was 
published in Brownlow's **Whig," in the form of a letter 
to the committee appointed by the citizens' meeting. It 
contained the substance only of my remarks, with some 
new material added. Events were developing so rapidly 

Political Canvass in 1860. 133 

diat much that was pertinent in November had lost its im- 
portance in January. Something new startled the country 
every day. I here give a few extracts from my letter : 

**A month has worked a mighty change. What was 
then pertinent might now be considered obsolete, so 
rapidly are we shifting, changing and moving forward. 
Many things then uttered as prophecies are to-day history. 
Events as they pass appear as a dream or a phantom, yet 
they are solemn realities. It is hard for the honest masses, 
far removed from the scenes of active strife, and quietly 
enjoying the fruits of peace and security in their rural 
abodes, ... to believe that any respectable portion 
of our people can desire to destroy the freest and best 
government ever instituted by man. It is difl5cult for 
them to realize that they are oppressed, insulted and en- 
slaved, as they are told, and that this Union of ours is a 
failure I It is hard to convince them that demagogues 
and disappointed or ambitious men can become so phren- 
sied as to deliberately set to work to overthrow the gov- 
ernment. Let me warn them to be undeceived. . . . 

''South Carolina is already out of the Union. Some, if 
not all, of the other cotton states will soon follow. They 
are attempting likewise to drag Tennessee along with them. 
Will the sovereign people permit it?" 

In reference to Mr. Lincoln, I said : 

**From Mr. Lincoln himself much harm need not be ap- 
prehended. His opinions on the whole subject of slavery 
are nearly identical with those entertained and often ex- 
pressed by Mr. Clay to the day of his death. He expressly 
denies the power, the right, or any intention to interfere 
with it in the states. . . . Then why fret ourselves 
with alarms, when it is evident Mr. Lincoln has neither 
the power nor the inclination to interfere with slavery?'* 

After discussing and showing the utter fallacy and hol- 
lowness of the pretended ground for secession, that slavery 
was not protected, or was excluded from the territories of 
the United States, I said : 

134 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

^ 'And this leads directly up to one of the real causes of 
disunion. Its advocates know that there is no more good 
slave territory belonging to the Union. They therefore de- 
sire a further acquisition of territory, and the extension of 
slavery into Mexico, and ultimately into Central America. 
With these, and as a part of their scheme, they desire the 
revival of the African slave trade. They know that these 
things can never be accomplished in the present Union, 
and hence those who desire them are for breaking up the 
government. Mr. Rhett, in a late speech in Charleston, 
openly avowed the determination of carrying the slave em- 
pire of the South 'over Mexico, Central America, the isles 
of the sea, and the far-oflf tropics.' Are we prepared to 
break up the government for such a purpose? For one, I 
answer, no, never I 

'*A third real cause, with the leaders in South Carolina 
particularly, is a deep and settled discontent with our form 
of government. While professing to be democrats, they 
are most undemocratic in all their opinions. The mass of 
the people in that state have but little to do with the ad- 
ministration of public affairs. The government is practi- 
cally an oligarchy. Mr. Rhett, the oldest and most promi- 
nent of the South Carolina disunionists, said in a late 
speech that the new government must be a *slaveholding 
confederacy,' and that universal suffrage must not be tol- 
erated ; in other words, that none but slaveholders must 
have a voice in the government. If they did, he said, it 
would result in a *dire conflict between want and affluence, 
population and capital . ' . . . " 

I quote one more extract from my letter : 

** Disunion is a remedy for no existing evil. By it, our 
slaves will be rendered less secure. The fugitive slave 
law, and all our constitutional guaranties, will be lost. 
The North and the South will become alien governments, 
embittered against each other by many reproaches and the 
memory of many real or supposed wrongs. Constant feuds, 
conflicts, forays, and border wars will desolate and harass 

Political Canvass in 1860. 135 

Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri. In a few 
years, these states, wasted and worn, will either abolish 
slavery from a sense of its insecurity, or it will silently dis- 
appear. When this happens, these states will most prob- 
ably wheel into line with the North. Thus, in a short 
time, Tennessee may become a border state, and then will 
come the time of her trials. The only safety for sla/oery is in 
the Union under the constitvMon.^^ 

It could scarcely be expected that, at that early date, in 
the conflict of opinion, a Southern slaveholder, as I was, 
bom and educated in the South, with many of the preju- 
dices and partialities of the people of that section, should 
have so far forgotten and risen above the prevailing opin- 
ions of his time and section as to speak out the whole truth 
as we were ready to do at a later period. I could not and 
did not. Many of the best men in the North even did not, 
much less the Union men of the South. Men everywhere, 
even the wisest, saw only dimly, if at all, the vast conse- 
quences of the great conflict just beginning. None were 
sufficiently gifted with prescience as to foretell the end, 
the final result. In the South the bravest Union men did 
not dare to utter things which they said boldly only a few 
months later. Public opinion, intrenched behind educa- 
tion and old prejudices, so terrorized the minds of men 
that they could not rise to the acceptance and utterance of 
many things which became easy at a later day. In De- 
cember, 1860, the question was whether there was a suffi- 
cient cause for dissolving the Union. In February follow- 
ing, the question was, shall Tennessee secede? In May, 
it was, what shall I, as an individual, do? Shall I go 
with my state into secession, or shall I remain true to the 
old government? So, with each stage of the development 
of the great revolution, new questions arose for the solu- 
tion of each individual. And, as these new questions 
arose, new ideas came to those who stood firm, and also 
fresh courage to proclaim these new ideas. From the fore- 
going, it is plain to see why so many, not only in Tennes- 

186 East Tennessee and the CivU War. 

see, but in nearly all the Southern States, who were Union 
men in December, 1860, were for the South in the spring 
of 1861. 

In deciding the question of adhesion to the old govern- 
ment, or joining the Confederacy of tl\jB Southern States, 
men had to take the questions as an entirety. If they 
chose to stand by the North, they must take it with its 
Personal Liberty Bills, its Abolitionists, its Free-soilers, 
its free territories ; with the peculiar thoughts, prejudices, 
ways and isms of its people, and with their deadly hatred 
of slavery. If they preferred to go with the South, they 
must take it with slavery as the cornerstone of the Con- 
federacy, with the doctrine of the acquisition of new ter- 
ritory in Cuba and Mexico, and probably ultimately in 
Central America to make room for its expansion, with a 
chance of the revival of the African slave trade. They 
must take it with the doctrine of the right of secession 
planted in the Constitution of the Confederacy, and ren- 
dered sacred and fundamental by recent experience ; they 
must take the doctrine of states rights and of free trade ; 
they must accept a despotic public opinion on the subject 
of the righteousness and the economic benefits of slavery, 
which would permit no one to question it or discuss it ; 
with the degradation of free white labor, and a marked 
line of distinction drawn between the two classes, the 
slaveholders and non-slaveholders. Each man had to de- 
cide these questions for himself, and determine which gov- 
ernment as a whole he preferred. Besides all these ques- 
tions, men had to decide whether they were willing to 
take the chances and hazards of a great civil war, with all 
its dire consequences, in order to establish a Southern 
Confederacy. They also had to take the chances, even the 
probabilities, of the destruction of slavery in the great 
conflict of arms, and give up the guaranties of the consti- 
tution for its protection. With all these great problems 
staring men in the face, and the absolute certainty as to 
the theory and general policy of the proposed new govern- 

P^lUieal Canvass in 1860. 137 

ment, it seems almost incredible that the great majority of 
the Southern people should have become so infatuated and 
phrensied by passion as to rush recklessly into the execu- 
tion of this scheme set on foot by hot-headed and ambi- 
tious leaders. Nevertheless, such was the amazing and 
fatal fact. It can only be accounted for on the ground 
that the Southern people believed the North would let the 
"wayward sisters depart in peace," or that its people 
would not, or could not, fight. Surely, if they had fore- 
seen, even partially, the tremendous consequences of their 
acts, it would have **given them pause." 

Poor South Carolina was the first and greatest sufferer, 
caused by her own precipitate action in bringing on the 
war. Her flourishing city, Charleston, her pride, the 
queen of the Atlantic, was left in a state of semi-desola- 
tion, her glory gone, her commerce destroyed, her mer- 
chant princes ruined, her refined, brave, hospitable people 
scattered abroad. The state was desolated by war, and 
her beautiful capital laid in ruins by a consuming fire. 
And nearly as bad as all these, now appears another 
Nemesis, in the person of one Benjamin Tillman, who 
makes war on the old aristocratic institutions of the state, 
arouses the people to a state of madness, and is triumph- 
antly elected governor and senator. He deliberately 
plucked down and ground to dust the venerable monu- 
ments erected by the grand old aristocracy. Even her 
gallant and noble general. Wade Hampton, because he 
refused to humiliate himself before the rising autocrat, is 
summarily dismissed from an office apparently his for life. 
The sores of the state were scraped, like Job's, as if with 
a potsherd, and her whole system made to quiver in 
agony. The bitterest enemy of South Carolina could not 
have wished to see fall on her such multiplied woes. 

The presidential election in 1860 took place on the 6th 
of November. On the morning of the 7th it was known in 
Charleston that Mr. Lincoln was elected. The news was 
received by the citizens with demonstrations of joy, thus 

138 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

proving, what had been charged during the canvass, that 
the secession leaders desired his election. As far back as . 
the spring of 1858, Henry A. Wise, then governor of 
Virginia, had written to a friend that the cotton states in- 
tended nominating an extremist for president, in 1860, on 
an extreme platform, with the express purpose of having 
him defeated.^ On the 5th of October, Wm. H. Gist, 
governor of South Carolina, wrote letters to the governors 
of the several cotton states, dispatched by a confidential 
agent, inviting a correspondence with them as to the 
proper action to be taken in the event of the election of 
Mr. Ldncoln, which he regarded as almost certain. He 
expressed the opinion that his state would secede alone 
if she had the assurance that she would soon be followed 
by another or other states ; otherwise it was doubtful. On 
the 5th of November, the legislature of that state was con- 
vened by the governor, and in his message to that body, 
in undisguised terms, he recommended secession, and the 
raising and equipping of ten thousand militia. The legis- 
lature proceeded to call a convention, to be convened early 
in December, and at the same time placed in the hands of 
the governor one hundred thousand dollars to be used in 
arming and equipping the militia. 

While these things were taking place in South Carolina, 

* Extract from letter of Henry A. Wise to Wm, SergeanL 

" Richmond, Va., May 28, 1858. . . . The truth is that there is in the 
Soath an organized, active and danji^roas faction, embracing most of the 
federal politicians, who are bent upon bringing about causes of dissolution 
of the Union. They desire a united South, but not a united country. 
Their hope of embodying a sectional antagonism is to secure a sectional 
defeat. At heart, they do not wish the Democracy to be any longer 
national, united or successful. In the name of Democracy they propose 
to make a nomination for 1860, at Charleston, but an ultra nomination of 
an extremist on the slavery issue alone, to unite the South on that one 
idea, and on that to have it defeated by a line of sectionalism, which will 
inevitably draw swords between fanatics on one side and fire eaters on the 
other. Bear it in mind, then, that they desire to control a nomination for 
no other purpose than to have it defeated by a line of sections. They de- 
sire defeat for no other end than to make a pretext for the clamor of dia- 
8olution."--Nicolay <fe Hay's " Life of Lincoln," Vol. II, p. 302. 

Political Canvass in 1860. 139 

still more effective work for secession was being done in 
Washington, under the very eyes and with the knowledge 
of President Buchanan. In his cabinet were three of the 
most active secessionists in the land, Howell Cobb, secre- 
tary of the treasury, Jacob Thompson, secretary of the in- 
terior, and John B, Floyd, secretary of war. These men 
were in daily and nightly consultation with the leaders of 
secession. Two of them, Cobb and Thompson, were open 
and undisguised in their sympathy for that cause. They 
80 expressed themselves to the president, and in the cabinet 
meetings. Floyd was as decided in that way as they, but 
from some cause more reserved. They had an active ally 
in William H. Trescott, assistant secretary of state. Thus 
in the very precincts of the White House disloyalty was 
fostered as much as in Columbia or Charleston. On the 
Sih of December a committee of South Carolina congress- 
men called on the president to protest against his sending 
Any re-enforcements to the forts in Charleston harbor. 
They told him that if he did do so, the people of Charles- 
ton should be informed of the fact, for said they **we have 
sources of information in Washington, so that no orders 
for troops can be issued without our getting the infor- 

Orders for the army in reference to secession movements 
in Charleston, instead of being issued by or passing 
through the hands of General Scott, the commander-in- 
chief, as custom and courtesy demanded, were issued ver- 
bally or in writing by Mr. Floyd himself, or by Samuel 
Cooper, the adjutant-general, who was also a secessionist. 
For months General Scott was ignored by Mr. Floyd, and 
kept in profound ignorance of the orders issued in refer- 
ence to the forts and public property in Charleston. 

There were three forts in the harbor of Charleston, 
Moultrie, Sumter and Castle Pinckney, all belonging to 
the United States. The two former were in a state badly 
needing repairs. Only one of them, Moultrie, had a gar- 
rison in it, and that consisted of sixty men. The other 

140 East Tennessee and the CvoU War. 

two had only an unarmed ordinance sergeant in each. As 
early as October, General Scott, in his patriotic zeal, 
warned Mr. Buchanan of the danger to these forts from a 
secession attack, and urged that they should be re-enforced 
and put in a state of repair. No attention was paid to his 
recommendations. Then followed a similar request from 
Colonel Gardner, the commandant at Charleston. The 
only result of this was his removal. Then Major Fitz* 
John Porter, who was sent to inspect the forts, advised 
that they should be repaired and re-enforced. Following 
this, Captain John G. Foster, the engineer in charge of the 
repairs, previously ordered by Congress, asked for forty 
muskets with which to arm his workmen for the defense 
of the work. In the meantime, on the removal of Colonel 
Gardner from command, Major Robert Anderson was ap- 
pointed to succeed him. 

On the arrival of Major Anderson, he made an inspec- 
tion of the forts, and at once made an elaborate report to 
the war department. He pointed out the hopelessness of 
holding these forts if vigorously attacked, as they were 
liable to be at any time, by the troops of South Carolina, 
then drilling in the streets of Charleston. He earnestly 
urged that all three of the forts should be occupied, 
strengthened and re-enforced. Fort Moultrie was alone 
garrisoned at that time. He said: ''Fort Sumter and 
Castle Pinckney must be garrisoned immediately if the 
government determines to keep command of this harbor. 
. . . I do then," said he, ''most earnestly entreat 
that a reinforcement be immediately sent to this garrison 
(Moultrie) , and that at least two companies be sent at the 
same time to Fort Sumter and Castle Pinckney." Again 
and again he urged the necessity of these things on the at* 
tention of the secretary of war. But all in vain. Neither 
the recommendations of General Scott, nor those of Colonel 
Gardner, nor of Major Porter, nor of Captain Foster, nor 
the repeated entreaties of Major Anderson, were heeded by 
the secretary of war, nor by the president, imtil it was too 

Political Canvass in 1860. 141 

late. The subject was frequently discussed in cabinet 
meetings, but the president was so dominated by Cobb, 
Thompson and Floyd, and the secession leaders— was so 
paralyzed by fear of the South, so imneryed and vacillat- 
ing — ^that he would do nothing. Seldom, if ever, was the 
preservation of a great government in the custody of such 
unsteady hands. Mr. Buchanan was not false to his coun- 
try, but he did not have courage to do his duty. 

Fort Sumter and Moultrie completely commanded the 
harbor of Charleston, and Castle Pinckney the city itself. 
If these forts had been properly garrisoned and equipped, 
it was the opinion of competent military men, like General 
Scott, that no Confederate force which could be brought 
against them could take them. Their strength and the 
difficulty of taking them will appear when it is remem- 
bered that, with aU the power of the government, the war 
was well advanced towards a close before they were taken 
by the government after their capture in 1861. 

The Convention of South Carolina was to assemble on 
the 17th of December. No one had any doubt that it 
would pass an ordinance of secession. In anticipation of 
that event, Gk)vernor Gist had sent, early in November, an 
agent to Washington, to negotiate with Secretary Floyd 
for muskets for the state. The negotiation was successful, 
and Floyd, in violation of the obligations of honor and 
duty, sold to the State of South Carolina, through G. B. 
Lamar, arms to be used in an attempt to overthrow th^ 
authority of the government. Seldom has history recorded 
such an act. 

Things now moved rapidly. On the 20th day of Decem- 
ber, the Convention of South Carolina, with great pomp 
and ceremony, passed an Ordinance of Secession, declar- 
ing the state sovereign and independent. The news was 
received by the people of the city with great demonstra* 
tions of joy. In the new condition of affairs, Francis M. 
Pickens was elected governor. He immediately dispatched 
three commissioners, Messrs. Barnwell, Adams,* and Orr, 

142 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

to Washington, to settle the terms of an adjustment of all 
questions of difference existing between the United States 
and the Commonwealth of South Carolina, including a 
settlement of the public debt and a division of public 
property. The theory held by the people of South Caro- 
lina was that this state was sovereign and independent, 
and had a right to withdraw whenever the compact of 
union was broken or violated, and they insisted that that 
condition existed at that time. The conduct of these com- 
missioners must be viewed, in justice to them, from this 
point of view. Mr. Buchanan received them politely, and 
informed them that he could only receive them as private 
gentlemen of the highest distinction, and that congress 
would have to determine the questions they had come to 
have settled. While these formal courtesies were taking 
place between the president and these commissioners, 
startling news for them reached Washington. Major An- 
derson, early after dark on the 26th of December, quietly 
abandoned Fort Moultrie, after having spiked its guns and 
set fire to the gun carriages, and moved to and occupied 
Fort Sumter, a more defensible and stronger place. The 
city of Charleston was thrown into the highest excitement ; 
the military companies were put under arms. Forces 
were dispatched as soon as possible to seize Castle Pinck- 
ney and Fort Moultrie. The arsenal, the custom-house, 
and the post-office were seized. As each of these was held 
alone by an unarmed ordinance sergeant, South Carolina 
achieved an easy victory. 

In Washington, the news of the occupation of Sumter 
was received by the high commissioners of South Carolina 
and by their Southern aUies with the bitterest indignation. 
Mr. Floyd stormed in his rage. The president was dazed and 
bewildered. On Friday, the 28th, the commissioners and 
the president held their first formal conference. The presi- 
dent, while declaring that he had no authority to meet 
them, expressed his willingness to become the medium of 
communicating to congress any proposition they had to 

Political Canvass in 1860. 145 

make. The commissionerB, instead of meeting him in the 
same spirit he had manifested, proceeded in an angry tone to 
reproach the honor of the government, and to ask an expla- 
nation of Anderson's conduct in occupying Fort Sumter. 

This was accompanied with the threat to suspend nego- 
tiations. They demanded, in conclusion, **the withdrawal 
of the troops, " not only from Fort Simiter, but from the har- 
bor of Charleston also, adding that ''under present circum- 
stances they are a standing menace which renders nego- 
tiation impossible." Perhaps in the history of civilized 
nations there was never manifested such proud confidence 
on the one side and such timidity on the other. 

The demands of these commissioners, that Anderson's 
conduct should be disavowed, and all troops withdrawn 
from the harbor of Charleston, were the subject of three 
angry cabinet meetings.' Finally, Mr. Floyd having be- 
come disgraced by a damaging allegation of complicity 
with the loss of a million of dollars of Indian trust funds^ 
was forced to resign. 

Mr. Jeremiah Black, now secretary of state, viewing the 
situation from a higher plane than that of a mere politician 
with Southern sympathies, suddenly became broad and 
patriotic in mind and action. With determined will and 
resolution, he and Mr. Holt and Mr. Stanton were able to 
exercise some restraining influence on the wavering mind 
of the president. They succeeded in arresting his first 
draft of an answer to the demands of the commissioners. 

^ At one of these cabinet meetings, before Floyd had resigned, Mr. Stan- 
ton said, as he afterward related: "No administration has eyer saffered 
the loss of pnblic confidence and support as this has done. Only the other 
day, it was announced that a million of dollars had bef n stolen from Mr. 
Thompson's department. The bonds were found to have been taken from 
the vaolt where they should have been kept, and the notes of Mr. Floyd 
were substituted for them. Now it is proposed to give up Sumter. All I 
have to say is, that no administration, much less this one, can afford to 
lose a million of money and a fort the same week." Floyd remained si- 
lent and did not reappear in that chamber again. — Nicolay & Hay, Vol. III> 
p. 74. 

144 East Tennessee and t?ie Civil War. 

The answer finally given by the president was half apolo- 
getic. He regretted that the commissioners deemed nego- 
tiations impossible. But he declined with all possible po- 
liteness to withdraw the troops from the harbor of Charles- 
ton. This reply called forth an angry and bitter rejoinder 
from the commissioners, in which they charged the presi- 
dent with duplicity, double-dealing and vacillation. 

Previous to the events just narrated, on the 17th of De- 
cember, Captain Foster obtained, on a previous order 
issued to the military storekeeper in Charleston, forty 
muskets with which to arm his workmen for the defense 
of the public property, and also for the use of the two or- 
dinance sergeants who were in charge respectively of 
Forts Sumter and Castle Pinckney. This trivial transac- 
tion created the greatest excitement. An immediate as- 
sault on the forts by a Charleston mob was threatened. 

The matter was referred to Washington, and Mr. Floyd 
at once telegraphed to Captain Foster : **If you have re- 
moved any arms, return them instantly." Foster of 
course obeyed the order. This was not cowardice on 
Floyd's part. 

While the secession movement was in hot blast, Jacob 
Thompson, secretary of the interior in Mr. Buchanan's 
cabinet, was appointed an agent by the Mississippi legis- 
lature to proceed to Raleigh, North Carolina, to induce 
that state to secede from the Union. He accordingly 
went, was publicly received by the legislature, and used 
all his influence to accomplish the object of his mis- 
sion.^ After exhausting his influence in vain in Raleigh, 
he returned to Washington and resumed his seat in 
Buchanan's cabinet. 

Early in January, 1861, Mr. Floyd having reluctantly 
resigned and Joseph Holt having succeeded him, it was 
determined by the cabinet and General Scott to send re- 
enforcements and supplies to Major Anderson. On Jan- 

» Nicolay A Hay'a " Life of Lincoln," Vol. HI, p. 99 

PolUical Catwass in 1860. 146 

uary the 6th, tho "Star of the West*' sailed from New 
York with two hundred well instructed recruits, and with 
arms, ammimition and subsistence for three months. In 
his position as a cabinet officer, Jacob Thompson had 
learned the secret of the intention of the government to 
provision and re-enforce Port Sumter. On the 8th of Jan- 
uary, he had telegraphed this fact to the authorities in 
Charleston.^ On the morning of the 9th, the vessel en- 
tered the harbor of Charleston, and, crossing the bar, 
steamed cautiously toward Port Sumter. Suddenly a 
masked and unknown battery, on Morris' Island, opened 
fire on it. Fort Moultrie, lately seized by the South Caro- 
lina troops, was likely to open fire also at any moment, 
as the course of the vessel lay in the direction of that fort. 
A new danger now appeared. An armed revenue cutter, 
recently seized by the troops of South Carolina, towed by 
two boats, was seen approaching. Thus beset by dangers 
the officers of the ''Star of the Wesf turned about, passed 
out of the harbor, and sailed back to New York. Thus 
Jacob Thompson, though a cabinet officer under Mr. 
Buchanan, in his zeal for the Southern cause, furnished 
the information which caused the first shot of the late 
Civil War to be fired upon the National flag. 

The ** Harriet Lane" was afterward sent by Mr. Lin- 
coln with provisions alone for the relief of the brave gar- 
rison shut up in the fort, but arriving during the bom- 
bardment, and finding it impossible to land, it had to re- 
turn without accomplishing its mission. 

The annual message of Mr. Buchanan submitted to 
congress in December, 1860, in reference to the attitude of 
the Southern States, was a remarkable document. In it 
occurs the doctrine that there is no power under the con- 
stitution to "coerce a state" which is attempting to with- 
draw, or has actually withdrawn from the Union, into sub- 
mission to the national authority. This was a mere beg* 

» Nioolay A Hay's " Life of Lincoln," Vol. Ill, p. 128. 

146 East Tennessee and the CivU War. 

ging of the question. No one asserted such a power in 
the form in which he put it. He might, with as much 
truth, have asserted that no state could be indicted for 
treason or insurrection. The real question was, can the 
individuals composing the entity, or body politic called a 
state, be coerced into submission to the laws and rightful 
authority of the United States when resisting them. Mr» 
Buchanan did not dare to state the question in this form, 
for his knowledge of the history of his own state, in the 
case of the Whisky Insurrection in 1794, would have 
overthrown his position. There, President Washington 
called out a part of the militia of three states, put Gren- 
eral Henry Lee at the head of the expedition, and quelled 
the insurrection by the display of force. Laws are directed 
against and are operative upon individuals, and not 
against communities or aggregations of persons. Mr. 
Buchanan, in his account of his own administration, 
recognizes this distinction himself, when he says, **our 
Civil War was undertaken and prosecuted in self-defense, 
not to coerce a state, but to enforce the execution of the 
laws within the states against individuals." . . . Mr. 
Buchanan's opinion, expressed in his message, became the 
shibboleth of noisy Secessionists throughout the Southern 
States during the next few months, and no doubt added 
some weight to the Revolutionary movement. 

The First Great Political Fight. 147 



Feelisg of uncertainty and apprehension among the people in November 
and December, 1860— Friends of disunion demonstrative— Pnblic meet- 
ing in KnoxviUe, November 26th — Kesolntions offered and discussed — 
Adjourned over to December 8th— People of the country invited to 
attend— A vast crowd present— Resolutions tending toward disunion 
offered— Discussed by both sides for several hours— Persons taking 
part named— Voted down three to one — Union resolutions offered and 
adopted by a great majority^Far-reaching consequences of this action 
— Meeting the turning-point in history of Unionism in East Tennessee 
— Other Union meetings follow — Distinguished character of men who 
participated in these meetings— Anomalous character of these meet- 

The only apology I can offer for using the first person 
and for referring to myself as I shall do in this chapter, 
and perhaps in subsequent ones also, is the fact that I was 
an active participant in the transactions about to be re- 
lated, which form an important part of the history of the 
moyement in favor of secession in East Tennessee, the 
omission of which would leave the narrative incomplete. 
Some of these facts are known only to Mr. John M. Flem- 
ing and myself, some only to myself, and some were never 
known to any other persons. Mr. Fleming is now, and 
has been for a long time, a hopeless invalid, and is there- 
fore incapable of narrating this untold history. All other 
persons who were once familiar with a part of these facts 
are now dead. Some of these facts were so important in 
their immediate results, and still more so in their remote 
consequences, that to omit them would leave the history of 
secession in East Tennessee incomplete and not altogether 
satisfactory or truthful. 

On my return from court at Sevierville, on Sunday, No- 
vember 26, 1860, to which reference was made in the pre- 

148 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

ceding chapter, I found the public mind in a feverish state 
of excitement. Secession was rapidly hastening to a cul- 
mination in South Carolina. Its friends were actively at 
work in Knoxville, preparing the way for a similar act in 
Tennessee. Everything seemed to run smoothly in that 
direction. There were no influences at work to coimteract 
this movement. The Union sentiment of the country had 
not yet been awakened. The wild rush of disloyalty 
seemed to be sweeping everything before it. Not a voice 
had been heard in the state, in reference to the condition 
of national affairs, except mine the week before, in an out- 
of-the-way town. Federal court, presided over by West 
H. Humphreys, an open Secessionist — ^the same person who 
was afterward impeached and convicted of disloyalty by 
the United States Senate — ^was in session at Knoxville. 
The jurors, summoned by a Southern-sympathizing mar- 
shal, were nearly all open in their demonstrations of dis- 
loyalty. Some of them appeared defiantly in court and in 
the jury box, wearing secession badges and emblems, with- 
out any rebuke from a judge presiding over a United States 
court. The judge, the district attorney, the marshal, the 
clerk, most of the jurors, and many of the witnesses and 
parties litigant, were outspoken for disunion. It looked as 
if all were lost. 

A prominent and able Whig leader, Mr. John Baxter, 
had just written and published a communication in 
**Brownlow's Whig," urging the assembling of a conven- 
tion of delegates from the slave states for consultation and 
action. Even the brave and secession-hating Brownlow 
had been induced, by his great confidence in and friend- 
ship for the writer, to indorse this scheme in an editorial 
in his paper, possibly written by Mr. Baxter, in which he 
said, in substance (no doubt hoping, and possibly believ* 
ing, that such a conference would be able to unite on some 
measure that would preserve this Union) , that the policy 
suggested by that body might prove to be the best and 

The First Great Political Fight. 149 

such as we could all follow, although denying the right of 

About the middle of Noyember, there appeared a call in 
the Knoxyille newspapers, for a public meeting to take 
place on the night of the 26th of the month, to take into 
consideration the general state of affairs in the country. 
This meeting was called by the friends of secession, though 
not so announced. It was intended to get the people to- 
gether, under the plea of consultation in reference to the 
public welfare, and then after the usual professions of loye 
for the Union, to introduce and pass resolutions, covertly 
in the interest of secession. Apparently, the meeting was 
to be a very fair and patriotic one. The movers in it ex- 
pected to commit the people of Knoxville to the scheme of 
secession before the full purpose and effect of the move- 
ment should be imderstood. 

The situation was extremely alarming. As soon as I 
saw the notice of this proposed meeting, and the propo- 
sition for a convention of Southern delegates, I at once 
realized the danger there was in them. They seemed to 
threaten, if unopposed, the most fatal consequences to the 
Union cause. I at once, Sunday as it was, sent for Mr. 
John M. Fleming, a cool, clear-headed young lawyer who 
had just returned with me from Sevierville. I explained to 
him my apprehensions, in which he fully concurred, and 
we then held a long and anxious consultation. 

On that Sunday afternoon was organized at my house 
the plan of opposition to the movements of the secession- 
ists, which was afterwards so successfully carried out in two 
public meetings, and which resulted in such signal benefits 
to the Union cause. We knew that the daring aggressive- 
ness of the secession leaders could only be counteracted by 
meeting them at the very inception of their schemes. The 
spirit of secession was abroad. It was in the very air. It 

* Brownlow's " Knoxville Whig," weekly, November 24, 1861. In the 
same number, however, there are four or five editorials denonncing secee- 
Sion with all the force and bittemesB of this Union-loving patriot. 

150 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

was as contagious' as a fatal epidemic. We knew also that 
if opposition to the schemes contemplated for the meeting 
on the night of the following day was to be made, it had 
to be made by us. There were no other public men to do 
it. Baxter and Brownlow were committed to another 
policy ; Trigg was absent. M*. Maynard, if at home (and 
I think he was not) , was no leader for such an occasion. 
Mr. W. H. Sneed, Mr. James W. Humes and Mr. W. B. 
Reese, had joined the Southern movement. Mr. John J. 
Reese was neither a public speaker nor a leader. Samuel 
R. Rodgers alone remained to help in the fight, and he was 
at that time in no sense a public leader nor speaker. This 
was the situation on the 25th of November, 1860. The 
first point was to defeat the evident purpose and object of 
the proposed public meeting. This, it was believed, could 
be done best by attending and taking part in it, and voting 
down, if possible, any secession propositions which might 
be offered. This was the course agreed upon. The next 
point was to try to change the attitude of Mr. Brownlow 
in reference to the proposed conference of delegates from 
the Southern States. We knew he was honest and that he 
would abandon in a moment, and unreservedly, the hasty 
indorsement of that scheme, if convinced that duty to his 
country demanded it. The dominant sentiment of his 
being was love of the Union and hatred of secession. We 
also knew that he was proud-spirited, and would submit 
to nothing like dictation. It was agreed that we should 
call on him the next morning and discuss the matter with 
him in the kindest spirit. Accordingly, at the appointed 
hour, we went to his office. On the way we met Mr. 
Samuel R. Rodgers, who, at our request, joined us. 

We had a frank conference with Mr. Brownlow, pointing 
out to him that if a conference of delegates from the 
Southern States were held, it would inevitably fall under 
the control of the most ultra men, not only from the Cotton 
States, but likewise from the border states ; that the seces- 
sionists were everywhere active, aggressive and domineer- 

The First Great Political Fight. 161 

ing, while the Union men were timid and yielding ; that 
such a convention would surely indorse secession, and thus 
consolidate public sentiment in its favor; that in that 
event, the Union feeling in the South, by reason of the im- 
posing character of such a meeting would be smothered, 
silenced and destroyed, and that we, of the middle and 
border slave states, having voluntarily gone into the con- 
vention, would be bound in honor by its recommendations 
and have to yield to the secession movement. 

These and other arguments were used with the utmost 
kindness and deference. But a mere suggestion was all 
that was needed. Mr. Brownlow, with his keen instinct 
of patriotism, and his clear, honest judgment, only needed 
a hint as to his duty, and that he was ready to follow even 
to death. He yielded a cordial assent to the reasons of- 
fered, and never afterward wrote another word in behalf 
of a Southern Convention. Indeed, when he unguard- 
edly, through the influence of a trusted friend, was led 
into that false position, it was under the belief that the 
step recommended was the best one to save the Union. 
No power on earth could have induced him knowingly to 
raise a hand against the government. He was impulsive, 
and sometimes, under the advice of trusted friends, hasty, 
but he was essentially honest, and never persisted in an 
error when his clear judgment was convinced that it was 
such. His mind was always open to reason. 

During that day (Monday), every effort was made to 
prepare for the public meeting. But the time was so short 
that but few persons could be found who would attend it. 
Union men had not yet seen the danger ahead of them. 
They were to some extent indiflFerent to the great peril 
which threatened the country. But above this, they had 
not yet broken the shackles of prejudice which bound in 
its iron grasp the minds of all Southern people, and made 
of them cowards, and to a large extent blinded them in ref- 
erence to all questions affecting slavery. They were timid, 
half paralyzed by the noisy secessionists on the streets, in 

162 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

the hotels, and in the federal court. A wild stampede to- 
ward secession was dangerously imminent. In fact, it 
had already commenced. At no time after the election of 
Mr. Lincoln until the close of the war did it require so 
much courage to be for the Union as at this time. Timid 
men were skulking ; nothing but a sense of patriotic duty 
gave men the courage to brave the danger. 

It was well known that this call for a public meeting 
originated with the friends of disunion, and that the meet- 
ing was designed to promote that cause. There had been 
no test of public sentiment in the community since the 
presidential election. The friends of disunion were noisy 
and clamorous here, as elsewhere, and seemed to be sweep- 
ing everything before them. Notwithstanding the adverse 
appearance of things, we were determined to do all that 
could be done to stay this mad current of disloyalty, and, 
if possible, check it and turn it back. 

When the meeting assembled, it was at once evident, as 
it was feared would be the case, that the secession element 
was decidedly in the ascendant. Federal court was still in 
session, and the demonstratively disloyal jurors and other 
attendants on the court were present, ready to shout, to 
applaud and make a noise. The Union men did not know 
their strength, and were held back by the fear of the slave 
power. In fact, many men under the changed and chang- 
ing aspect of public affairs had not yet made up their 
minds where they would go. They were bewildered, and 
groped uncertainly, hunting the light. 

The crowd that attended the meeting was respectable in 
point of numbers. One Joseph H. Walker, a secessionist 
sympathizer, was made chairman. A committee was ap- 
pointed to report resolutions, of which Mr. John Baxter 
was either chairman or a member. This committee re- 
ported a set of resolutions for the consideration of the 
meeting. It is impossible to give these as reported, for no 
record exists of them, so far as can be ascertained. But, 
in the main, they were regarded by all the Union leaders, 

The First Great Political Fight. 153 

except Mr. Baxter and Mr. John J. Reese, as tending to- 
ward disloyalty. They recommended in particular the 
convening of the legislature, and the appointment by it 
of delegates to a conference or conyention of all the South- 
ern States. 

To a casual listener, there does not seem to be much 
harm in these resolutions. But we knew the men who 
were pushing their adoption. We had seen these men ap- 
plaud with wildest demonstrations the secession utterances 
of Wm. L. Yancy in this city but a few weeks before. 
We did not look at the mere words of the resolution, but 
behind them — ^to their hidden meaning — to the ultimate 
purpose. Behind them, simple as they seemed, some of 
us saw the form of secession, as clear and distinct in out- 
line as if painted on canvas or molded in bronze. A sword 
is none the less a sword, though wreathed from hilt to 
point in harmless flowers. We did not at that time fully 
realize the fierce and ceaseless aggressiveness of the spirit 
of secession, but we knew that it was easier to fight it in 
its weakness than in its well-developed strength. We felt 
that Hercules must be strangled in his infancy, before he 
became strong enough to destroy us. 

Mr. Baxter, as we have already seen, was at that time 
in favor of a Southern conference or convention, and the 
main resolution was to that effect. Mr. Fleming, Mr. S. 
R. Rodgers, and myself regarded this resolution as the en- 
tering wedge to ultimate disimion. 

In the meeting, there was much speaking on both sides 
and considerable noise and excitement. The discussion 
opened up the whole question of union or disunion. 
Broadly and clearly in favor of secession were Mr. William 
H. Sneed, Mr. John H. Crozier, and Mr. W. B. Reese, Jr. 
Mr. John J. Reese was in favor of a Southern conference, 
though at that time a warm Union man. The speakers on 
the Union side were Mr. Fleming and myself. Mr. Baxter 
advocated his own scheme. He did not fully agree with 
either side, but was earnestly in favor of saving the Union, 

154 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

He differed from his Union friends simply as to the best 
mode of doing this. 

As the debate progressed, it became only too evident to 
the friends of the Union that if the vote were taken that 
evening the secessionists would achieve a decided triumph. 
Then a game of tactics was commenced to defeat a direct 
vote, and secure an adjournment until a future day. Mr. 
Fleming, who was a skillful parliamentarian, by some art- 
ful motions, the effect of which was not clearly understood 
by the chairman, finally secured an adjournment until the 
8th day of December, in the daytime. We had gained a 
great deal, indeed everything, by securing this delay. 

The next trial of strength and test of public sentiment 
were to be made in the daytime. That gave us an oppor- 
tunity to rally the people from the coimtry, whom we knew 
to be as yet untainted with disloyalty. During the even- 
ing's debate, one of our speakers, believing that the seces- 
sionists would pass their resolutions, had said that if they 
did so the friends of the Union would appeal to the coun- 
try. So, the next morning, this appeal was taken up by 
our friends as a rallying cry. Messages were sent all over 
the county, and to some extent to the neighboring counties, 
that we had appealed to the people to aid us against the 
schemes of the enemies of the Union. The effect was 
electrical. The coimtry people became aroused, even mad- 
dened, at the news. On the day appointed for the final 
meeting, early in the morning, they poured into town, 
until the streets were full of excited countrymen. In one 
case, a considerable procession of men on horseback, from 
a distant part of the county, on the borders of Union, 
headed by a venerable old man, Isaac Bayless, marched 
down Gay street, with dark and ominous determination 
depicted on their countenances. Men were here also from 
adjoining counties. The news had gone to the country 
that the secessionists of the town were plotting to over- 
throw the government, and they were asked to come and 

The First Great PoliHcal Fight. 155 

help to save it. Most gladly they responded to the sum- 

At an early hour the meeting reconvened. The crowd 
was so great that only a portion of it could get into the 
court-house, where the meeting was to be held. Those 
who could not enter hung around the doors and windows 
and crowded the passage-ways, eager to catch a word or 
get news of what was going on within. The most intense 
interest and anxiety filled the minds and hearts of those 
present. All seemed to be unconsciously impressed with 
the conviction that they were in the presence, in the very 
shadow, of some great event. This feeling gave a pro- 
found earnestness to their minds. 

At 11 o'clock the meeting was called to order by the 
former chairman. Fortunately we have a tolerably full 
account of this meeting, as reported and published in 
**Brownlow's Whig," of December 15, 1860. 

The resolutions presented to the meeting were sub- 
stantially the same which had been before it on the pre- 
vious occasion. 

Mr. Baxter, as chairman, reported for the consideration 
of the meeting, in lieu of the former resolutions, the fol- 
lowing which had been adopted by a citizen's meeting in 
Nashville : 

^'Resolved, as the sense of this meeting, in view of the 
dangerous crisis in our affairs, the governor of the state 
be and he is hereby requested to call together the legisla- 
ture forthwith, that they may provide for a state conven- 
tion, to be elected by the people, the object of which shall 
be to bring about a conference of Southern States, to con- 
sider existing troubles, and, if possible, compose our sec- 
tional strife." 

After considerable skirmishing, Mr. W. B. Beese moved 
the adoption of this resolution, which being seconded, the 
debate was opened regularly. Mr. Baxter had already de- 
clared himself in favor of its adoption, and had made a 
speech to that effect. The parties who now ranged them* 

156 East Tennessee and the Civtl War, 

selves on the different sides and made speeches during the 
day were William H. Sneed, John H. Orozier, W. B. Reese, 
W. W. Wallia-ce and James W. Humes in favor of this 
resolution. Mr. Baxter, as already stated, favored the 
resolution, but was not a secessionist. So also John J. 
Reese favored the resolution, but he was a decided Union 

On the other hand, those who took part in the debate,^ 
in opposition to the resolution, were Mr. Samuel R. 
Rodgers and myself : Mr. Fleming not appearing on the 
stand until a later stage of the proceedings. 

The word "secession" was not named as an end in the 
speeches advocating the resolution. That was kept in the 
background. **A11 we wanted," as was argued, **was to 
secure our rights by united coimcil and harmonious action. 
Whatever was done should be done and approved by all. 
There could be no harm in consulting together and secur- 
ing unanimity of sentiment and harmony of action among 
all the Southern people." 

The speech of Mr. Rodgers was very brief, not exceed- 
ing eight or ten minutes. It was so unique that the con- 
densed account of it as reported is here reproduced : 

"Colonel S. R. Rodgers was then called up and spoke 
amid repeated applause in favor of the Union. He was 
opposed to convening the legislature— opposed to a South- 
em Conference— opposed to passing any resolution in 
this meeting— opposed to the meeting itself. He was for 
staying where we are, in the Union, and in favor of 
doing nothing, but 'holding plum still.' " 

On the Union sid6 the resolutions were opposed out and 
out, as containing in them the seeds of disunion. It was 
argued that the plan proposed, if carried out, would end 
in committing us all irretrievably to that fatal doctrine, 
and to an acquiescence in it with all its evil consequences. 
Secession was denounced as the scheme of ambitious men, 
without justification in any existing evil, and as a remedy 
for no wrong, either real or imaginary. It was insisted 

The First Great Political Fight. 157 

that if such a conference or convention, as the one pro- 
posed, were held, it would be dominated by the spirit of 
the extreme men in the South, and controlled by them ; 
that it would declare for secession, and that the Union 
men would be committed in its favor, and dragged into a 
cause they disliked, and one which they believed «to be 
causeless and wicked. All persons present were urged to 
resist all open or insidious approaches of secession, come 
from what quarter they might, and in whatever pleasing 
form or shape, and to stand by the government of their 

After the closing speech on the Union side, about three 
p. u., the secession leaders continued for half an hour to 
appeal to the people to sustain and vote for the resolution. 
After a second speech on my part, the resolution offered 
by the committee was put on its passage. The report 
says: **It was responded to by vehement and prolonged 
shouts of *Aye' and *No' alternately. Division was then 
had, when about three-fourths of the meeting voted down 
the resolution." 

Mr. W. B. Reese, Jr., now indignantly said : **You have 
said by your vote that you are afraid to trust yourselves. 
You don't seem to understand the purpose of the vote you 
have given." (Loud cries of **Wedo," **Not so," and 
much disorder.) Mr. Reese attempted to proceed, but 
could not be heard. This disorder was caused by the lan- 
guage used by Mr. Reese. 

Mr. Fleming then appeared on the stand, but yielded to 
Mr. W. B. Reese, Jr., who again protested, amid great 
confusion, against the action of the meeting. By permis- 
sion of Mr. Fleming, Mr. Crozier took the stand. He 
spoke at considerable length, deploring the action of the 
meeting, and urging that we should go with the cotton 
states in this controversy. 

Mr. Fleming then resumed the stand, and offered a pre- 
amble and resolutions which had recently been adopted 
by a meeting in Frankfort, Kentucky. The preamble and 

158 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

first two resolutions denounced secession as illegal, uncon* 
stitutional and unjustifiable. Another resolution declared 
for the preserration of the Union, and a devoted attach- 
ment and loyalty to it. Another declared that Mr. Lincoln 
had been legally and constitutionally elected president of 
the United States, and that we ought, as good citizens, to 
submit to his election and give him a fair trial as president. 

The last resolution was as follows : 

''Resolved, 6th. That Tennessee is now, as she has 
always been, true, loyal and devoted to the union of these 
states ; that she recognizes no constitutional right in any 
state, or combination of states, to force her into an attitude 
of hostility to the Union.^^ 

The reading of these resolutions called forth repeated 
applause. Mr. James W. Humes and Mr. Wallace made 
speeches in opposition to their adoption, the latter declar- 
ing that **it looked like a party move," and that he 
thought **the meeting a packed jury." One of the speak- 
ers replied to him with some spirit and a little sharpness, 
which was always regretted by him, as Mr. Wallace was 
an honorable gentleman. 

The report goes on : **The vote was taken upon Mr. 
Fleming's resolutions, which resulted in their adoption 
by an overwhelming majority — there being but few dis- 
senting voices." 

Mr. John J. Reese now mounted the stand, and pro- 
posed three cheers for the Union, which were given amid 
the wildest scenes of excitement and enthusiasm. The 
pent-up feelings of the people, kept in check to this hour 
by the solemnity of the occasion and the gravity of the 
great question in issue, now burst forth in unrestrained 
demonstrations of patriotic rejoicing. They were almost 
wild and frenzied. Never did the walls of the old court- 
house witness such a scene. 

At this point, Mr. W. G. Brownlow, who had been pres- 
ent all day taking notes for his paper, was called for by 
the meeting. In response to this call, he made a five min- 

The First Great Political Fight. 159 

utes* speech, such as he alone could make. He denounced 
all who favored secession as traitors, who ought to be 
hung. By this time the excitement of the Union men 
knew no limit. They saw their way clearly once more, 
and were strengthened and confirmed in their ancient 

Long before the close of the meeting, the advocates of 
secession had, one by one, been quietly leaving the house, 
so that at the close there was not one left. The meeting, 
therefore, adjourned, having lasted from 11 a. m. to about 
4 p. M. 

It will be observed that there had been two questions be- 
fore the meeting : 1st. That raised by the resolution re- 
ported by Mr. Baxter, recommending the convening of the 
legislature, the call of a state convention, and a conference 
of the slaveholding states. 2d. The resolutions presented 
by Mr. Fleming, which, in brief, condemned secession as 
a heresy, and declared our unalterable attachment and de- 
termined adherence to the Union. The main fight was 
over the first resolution. But it must not be overlooked, 
that in the discussion of this, both sides looked beyond the 
mere words and had secession in their minds. So it be- 
came almost the sole topic of controversy. In the view of 
those who opposed Mr. Baxter's resolution, its adoption 
would have led straight along the highway of disunion. 
The adoption of declarations of devotion and adhesion to 
the Union, such as it contained, were mere vain and idle 
words. The position taken by Mr. Baxter and Mr. John 
J. Reese on the first question neutralized their influence 
as to the great question lying behind it. In fact, when re- 
duced to exactness, there was but one question before the 
meeting, that of union or disunion. 

This was by far the most important political meeting 
ever held in the state. It was somewhat remarkable on 
account of the nimiber of persons taking part in it, who 
had been previously conspicuous in public life or who 

160 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

afterward became so.^ But its highest importance arose 
from its far-reaching consequences. It had no influence 
whatever, as it turned out, in preventing the convening of 
the legislature afterward, nor in checking the determina- 
tion of the secessionists at Nashville to hurry the state out 
of the Union. But, in determining and fixing the status 
of East Tennessee, its influence was incalculable. It must 
be borne in mind that these meetings, as far as I know, 
were the first held in the state after South Carolina had in 
many ways unmistakably manifested her purpose to secede 
from the Union. Certainly this was true of the first meet- 
ing. Four or five other states were as clearly preparing 
to follow her example. There was, therefore, universal 
alarm and uncertainty among the people. They were in a 
fearful state of apprehension in reference to something 
they did not understand. Lincoln and his followers had 
been denounced everywhere in the South as Black Repub- 
licans, Abolitionists, enennes of their country, worthy to 
be hung. Few public speakers or newspapers, even 
among the friends of Mr. Bell, dared to say a word in vin- 
dication of Mr. Lincoln, or of his party, for fear of the 
injurious effect it might have here at home. This great 
meeting was held at the time of this uncertainty and con- 
fusion in the public mind. 

It must be kept in view, also, that Knox was the 
largest county, and Knoxville the most important town in 
East Tennessee. It was situated geographically in its very 
center, and had always been the commercial emporium as 

^ It will be noticed that the names of neither Oonnally F. Trigg nor 
that of the Hon. Horace Maynard appear in this meeting. Mr. Trigg was 
absent at one of his courts. He had not yet taken any active part in the 
politics of this state, having moved here in 1855 from Virginia. Mr. May- 
nard was then in Washington, in attendance as a member of congress. A 
week before the meeting I went to him and urged him to stay and take 
part in it. I pointed out the great importance of fixing in advance a sound 
Union sentiment among our people while their minds were yet open to 
conviction. I urged that no great harm could result from his absence from 
congress for a few days, as no speaker was to be elected, etc. But he left 
for Washington that night, greatly to my disappointment. 

The First Great Political Fight. 161 

well as the political headquarters of this section. Here re- 
sided an unusual number of able leaders of the old Whig 
party, men not inferior in ability to those residing in Nash- 
ville. Here, too, the leading newspapers of the section 
were published, which were sent out into every county. 
In a majority of the other counties there were no news- 
papers published, and the people were therefore in the 
habit of looking to Knoxville not only for news, but also for 
the policy to be adopted in political emergencies. It can 
easily be imagined therefore with what eagerness and in- 
tense interest, in this hour of doubt and gloom, the 
proceedings of a very large meeting of both parties, 
lasting nearly all day, in which the leading men of the 
coimty participated, would be scanned by the people at a 

The news of this great uprising of the people, of the pro- 
nounced and almost unanimous determination unmistak- 
ably manifested of standing by the Union, the unequivocal 
condemnation of secession, and the announced purpose of 
giving to Mr. Lincoln, as president, a fair trial — ^was 
speedily carried to all the adjoining counties. The news- 
papers proclaimed it through their columns. Brownlow 
thundered forth this victory in triumphant tones. In a 
few days the fact of the great Union meeting was known 
to every intelligent man in East Tennessee. Where all 
had been gloom and uncertainty before, there followed 
hope, confidence and determination. The meeting, there- 
fore, became the turning point in the history of Unionism 
and nationality in all East Tennessee. The development and 
growth of secession feeling and manifestation were at once 
arrested. From this hour secession became cautious and 
timid ; loyalty became bold, outspoken and defiant. Dis- 
loyalty never recovered from the staggering blow it this 
day received. If it had succeeded, if it had triumphed in 
this meeting, the Union cause could never have withstood 
the tide of secession which in the next few months flowed 

162 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

in on our people like a flood. The people — a large part of 
them at least — ^would almost certainly have given way to 
the spirit of alarm and terrorism which swept into the 
stream of secession the people of the other divisions of the 
state, who blindly followed panic stricken and nerveless 

The transcendant influence of this meeting became mani- 
fest soon after it was held. Encouraged and emboldened 
by the loyal stand taken by Knox county, the different 
counties in East Tennessee soon began to hold Union meet- 
ings. In the course of the next few weeks nearly every 
county in East Tennessee declared through its citizens in 
no uncertain words in favor of the Union. The moral 
force and power of these public declarations were not 
weakened in their effect by any sickly twaddle about 
the **neulrality" of the state in the event of a conflict 
of arms. That dogma, except to a limited extent, never 
found a secure foothold among our people. Nor was the 
adherence of the people to the government a conditional 
and qualified one, depending upon getting certain rights 
alleged to be withheld from them. They went far beyond 
this. They lifted themselves up to the broad consideration 
of the single, the momentous question of the preservation 
of the government on the one side, or of its destruction on 
the other. 

Another important effect of this meeting was, that it 
encouraged and emboldened those to whom the people 
were accustomed to look for advice and leadership. Had 
the people given way at this dark crisis, the leaders one by 
one would have done the same thing. Discouraged in an 
attempt to stem the current, already running strongly in 
favor of disunion, now accelerated and swollen by this new 
impulse, the leaders would have yielded to it, or sullenly 
and silently given up in despair, and retreated to their 
offices or places of business. 

On the other side, had the leaders, those in whom the 
people placed confidence, by reason of their fidelity and 

The First Great Political Fight. 163 

superior means of information, faltered and given way at 
the first approach of danger, as they did in Middle Ten- 
nessee at a later day, the mass of the people, though in 
heart deyoted to the Union, fearing some unknown, vague 
evil to be impending, would have wavered likewise and 
finally given way. This was more or less true of the 
common people of every seceding state, and especially so 
in Georgia and Virginia. In each of these states a large 
majority of the people remained steadfast to the Union 
until they were deserted and forsaken by their trusted 

Nor must the remote consequences flowing from this 
meeting be overlooked. The unyielding loyalty of East 
Tennessee, throughout the long civil war that followed, 
was unparalleled in the United States. The fact of the 
existence of a large territory almost in the heart of the 
Southern States, containing a population of over three 
hundred thousand souls, more than two-thirds of which 
were fiercely devoted to the Union, must have exerted a 
great moral influence on true men everywhere. It must 
have given some comfort and support to the president in 
his darkest days of gloom and anxiety. It gave hope and 
courage to Andrew Johnson, Thos. A. B. Nelson, Horace 
Maynard and Reese B. Brabson, during the winter of 
1860-61, in their congressional labors. And who shall 
say how much this meeting of the 8th of December helped 
to give inspiration, form and point to the speech of Mr. 
Johnson, delivered in the senate on the 18th and 19th of 
that month, in which he for the first time declared for the 

A strange spectacle was witnessed that day — ^that of the 
opposing leaders coming together, in a good spirit, in the 
presence of the people, and dispassionately discussing for 
most of one entire day, and then quietly voting on the most 
momentous question that ever engaged the minds of free- 
men — ^the question of dissolving the bonds of the Union. 
No such spectacle was anywhere else witnessed in the 

164 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

South. Perhaps no such thing was ever seen in the history 
of the world. It was in part the supreme importance of 
the question at issue, and the august solemnity of the great 
occasion, as well as the calm and dispassionate discussion 
by the leaders of both sides, that gave to the decision 
rendered that day its immediate, its wide-spread and far- 
reaching influence. It forever fixed the minds of the 
people of East Tennessee in a loyalty to the government 
so unalterable that nothing could ever shake or change 
it. Only one or two angry words were spoken that day. 
The occasion was too solemn in its awful consequences for 
hot words. 

There was doubtless much suppressed feeling, but the 
open manifestation of bitterness was avoided by all the 
speakers. Both sides were somewhat timid. Each was 
cautiously feeling the pulse of the people. The bold atti- 
tude afterwards assumed by these speakers was not in the 
least manifest. Those on the Union side were still to 
some extent held in thraldom by the fear of pro-slavery 
public opinion. None but those who once resided in the 
South can realize the crushing force of this feeling. The 
secession leaders were cautious because they were not as- 
sured of the sympathy of the people. Public sentiment in 
East Tennessee, in reference to secession, had not yet crys- 
tallized into any very definite form. The people were at 
heart unquestionably attached to the Union, but they had 
recently heard so much about the evil designs of the Abo- 
litionists and the ''Black Republicans," that they became 
alarmed. They wanted information as to their duty. 
Those present that day, so demonstrative toward the close 
of the meeting, were at first quiet, anxious listeners. Mr. 
Brownlow was the only speaker who used bitter terms, and 
his were general in their application. 

The rather remarkable character of the men who were 
the leaders in the proceedings of this great day is worthy 
of notice. Mr. John H. Orozier was a lawyer, a fluent 
speaker, a man of learning, of large and varied intelli- 

The First Great PolUical Fight. 165 

gence, and of fine standing. He had been twice a promi- 
nent Whig member of congress. William H. Sneed was a 
lawyer of the very highest rank, of great personal worth, 
and of superior talents. He had once been a worthy Whig 
member of congress. Mr. W. W. Wallace was a man of 
high character and intelligence and of respectable powers. 
He had been twice a candidate of the Democratic party for 
congress. John Baxter was a man of notable force, and 
perhaps the ablest lawyer in the state. He was afterwards 
appointed by Mr. Hayes United States circuit court judge, 
and served as such until his death. William G. Brownlow 
was an editor of national reputation and a man of remark- 
able ability. He was afterwards twice elected governor of 
Tennessee, and served one term in the United State senate. 
Samuel K. Rodgers was a good lawyer and a man of fair 
capacity. He became speaker of the senate of Tennessee in 
1865, and this was followed by his appointment as chan- 
cellor of the second chancery division of the state. John 
M. Fleming had been a member of the state legislature two 
or three terms. He served one term as state superin- 
tendent of public instruction. He was an astute and able 
lawyer. But his highest distinction was won as one of the 
brightest and most accomplished editors in the state. In 
this field he was conspicuous, having few superiors any- 

John J. Reese was an educated gentleman, a son of Wm. 
B. Reese, the late learned jurist of the supreme court of 
the state. He became a lieutenant-colonel in the Confed- 
erate army. William B. Reese, Jr., his brother, was a 
lawyer of a very active and discriminating mind. After 
the war, he became a learned professor in the law depart- 
ment of Vanderbilt University. James W. Humes was a 
man of noted capability. He became a colonel in the Con- 
federate army. After the war, he made great reputation 
in the State of Virginia by the brilliancy of his political 
speeches. He was on the point of being nominated (and 
no doubt elected) governor of that commonwealth when he 

166 East Tennessee and the CivU War. 

died, while yet a young man. All of these men, except 
Mr. Wallace, had been Whigs in politics. 

All who took part in the proceedings of that great day of 
the triumph of loyalty in East Tennessee, except Mr. Flem- 
ing and the author, are now dead. 

In conclusion, I do not hesitate to express the decided 
opinion that, if the meeting of that day had declared in 
favor of disunion. East Tennessee would have gone with 
the South. Many persons would not have done so, but the 
majority would. That meeting fixed unchangeably its po- 
litical character. An overwhelming majority of its people 
have never swerved in their undying devotion to the Na- 
tional Union. During the war, they were a political 
anomaly in the South. Their record is unlike that of any 
other people in the United States, not only that they were 
loyal when the life of the nation was imperiled, but they 
maintained their fidelity to the Union under circumstances 
that were exceptionally trying, and were able to render 
services that were made doubly valuable by their geo- 
graphical position and the marked ability of the leaders. 

Campaign of February ^ 1861. 167 



OoTemor Harris calls an extra session of the legislature — Message to the 
l^^islatnre — Qaestion of convention or no convention submitted to the 
people at the ballot box— East Tennessee prepares for the conflict— 
Nominates the ablest men as candidates for the convention on the 
Union ticket — Candidates in Knox, Sevier and Roane counties — ^The 
canvass described^Boldness of candidates— People of Sevier county — 
Result in Knox county— In Sevier— In Roane — In East Tennessee — 
In the state — Convention defeated — Union majority in the election of 
candidates — On the call of a convention. 

In December, 1860, Isham G. Harris, governor of Ten- 
nessee, issued his proclamation convening the general 
assembly in Nashville, in extraordinary session, on the 
7th day of January next following. Governor Harris had 
been a Breckenridge Democrat, holding extreme Southern 
views. He was a man of remarkable energy and deter- 
mination ; ambitious, able and daring. In him the South- 
em leaders had an ally as bold as Yancy or Toombs, less 
brilliant, but with more prudence and discretion. When 
the legislature assembled he laid before it his message, 
explaining his reasons for calling it together in extra 
session. The message was a long and disingenuous ar- 
raignment of the people of the Northern States for their 
*' actual and threatened aggressions upon the well-defined 
rights" of the Southern States. A long list of grievances 
which the South had endured was set forth in burning 
language. The first complaint was that the Abolitionists 
had gained control of the House of Representatives, and 
had elected one of its leaders to the presidency. Now, 
all intelligent men knew that this was a mistake. Mr. 
Lincoln never had belonged to the Abolition party. Over 
and over again he had declared that there was no power 

168 Ea8t Tennessee and the CivU War. 

in the constitution to interfere with slavery in the states 
where it already existed, and he was unalterably opposed 
to any such interference. Indeed, he had only recently 
joined the Republican or Free-soil party. The utmost 
extent to which he had ever gone was in declaring that 
congress had the power to exclude slavery from the ter- 
ritories, and to abolish it in such places as belonged ex- 
clusively to the government. In all his speeches and 
letters he had acknowledged the constitutional obligation 
on the states to return fugitive slaves to their owners. 
Nor was it correct that it was the Abolition party ex- 
clusively which had triumphed, as a party, in the late 
presidential election, by the election of Mr. Lincoln and a 
majority of the members of the House of Representatives. 
It was the **Free-soil," or as they termed themselves **the 
Republican Party," which had thus triumphed. It is 
true that the Abolition party voted with the Republican 
party in that election, but this party was then, as it 
always had been, insignificantly small in all the Northern 
States. There were but few of this party in either House 
of Congress at that time, and these were utterly powerless 
by themselves to enact any hostile legislation. Mr. Lin- 
coln was elected by a large majority of the popular vote of 
the North. 

Another complaint of Governor Harris against the North 
was in these words : 

**It demanded, and from our love of peace and devotion 
to the Union, unfortimately extorted in 1819-20, a con- 
cession which excluded the South from about one-half of 
the territory acquired from France." 

This refers to the ''Missouri Compromise." It may 
sometimes do for mere politicians on the stump to talk 
loosely about political questions, but a grave state paper 
ought to be exact in all its statements. As to the Missouri 
Compromise line, which excluded slavery north of the par- 
allel of 36 degrees, 30 minutes, the South accepted, if 4t 
did not demand that line in congress, and it was estab- 

Campaign of February^ 1861. 169 

lished largely by the votes of its members. It had already 
gotten Louisiana and Arkansas as slave states out of the 
Louisiana purchase, and now, by this compromise it se- 
cured Missouri also. These three states included, after 
the sale of Texas to Spain, all the Louisiana purchase that 
was supposed to be suitable for slavery. At that time the 
South regarded the compromise line as a great triiunph for 

The next complaint contained in the message was in 
these words : 

**It" (the Abolition party) **has through the instru- 
mentality of emigrant aid societies, under state patronage, 
flooded the territories with its minions, armed with Sharp's 
rifles and bowie knives, seeking thus to accomplish by in- 
timidation, violence and murder, what it could not do by 
constitutional legislation." 

The charge that the emigrant aid societies acted ** under 
state patronage" is believed to be a mistake. They orig- 
inated in the feeling of indignation aroused by the efforts 
of the slaveholding people of Missouri and other Southern 
states to force slavery on the people of Kansas against 
what was alleged to be the will of a majority of the peo- 
ple of that territory. It was the emphatic protest of 
the North against the efforts of pro-slavery men in the 
border counties of Missouri, styled in that day * 'border 
ruffians," to control all elections in the Territory of Kan- 
sas by unfair methods. It was overwhelmingly established 
by proofs before the Congressional Investigation Com- 
mittee that in the March election of 1856, for members of 
a territorial legislature, these * 'border ruffians" cast 
4,908 illegal votes. During this long and protracted strug- 
gle for the control of Kansas, both parties were finally 
guilty of violence, outrages and bloodshed. It is unde- 
niable that many and terrible outrages were committed in 
Kansas by the Free-soil men of the North, as well as by 
Southern men. 

Grovemor Harris enumerated twenty-three grounds of 

170 East Tennessee and the CivU War. 

complaint against the people of the Northern States. He 
pointed out five amendments to the Constitution of the 
United States which he thought, if adopted, would satisfy 
the South, not one of which had the slightest chance of 
ever being ratified by the North. In the course of his mes- 
sage, he said: ''Whatever line of policy may be adopted 
by the people of Tennessee with regard to the present fed- 
eral relations of the state, I am sure that the swords of 
her brave and gallant sons will never be drawn for the 
purpose of coercing, subjugating or holding as a conquered 
province any one of her sister states, whose people may de- 
clare their independence of the Federal (Government, for the 
purpose of being relieved from a 'long train of abuses and 
usurpations.' " 

East Tennessee at once took up the challenge which 
Governor Harris had so boldly given to the friends 
of the Union, and girded itself for the coming con- 
flict. The Union men knew that it would be a desperate 
struggle. They realized that his message was a hot blast 
intended to blow the smothered fires of secession into a 
burning flame and a mighty conflagration. So they at 
once prepared to meet it, whatever might be their fate. 
Promptly the legislature, under the influences of the hour, 
and breathing the hot atmosphere of Nashville and Mid- 
dle Tennessee, passed an act, appointing the 9th day of 
February for an election of delegates to a convention to 
be held February 25th, "to consider the then existing re- 
lations between the Government of the United States and 
the government and the people of the State of Tennessee, 
and to adopt such measures for vindicating the sovereignty 
of the state and the protection of its institutions as shall 
appear to them to be demanded." The act provided that 
the people, while voting for delegates to the convention, 
should also vote on the question of "Convention" or "No 
Convention." It also provided that no ordinance or reso- 
lution of secession which might be adopted should "be of 
any binding force or effect until it is submitted to and rati- 

Ckvmpaign of February, 1861. 171 

fied and adopted by a majority of the qualified voters in 
the state." 

Not being in the least daunted or intimidated by 1;he in- 
flammatory appeal of the governor, the loyal people of East 
Tennessee at once organized for the approaching contest. 
The ablest and strongest men were selected in every 
county as candidates for the convention. Nathaniel G. 
Taylor was nominated in Carter county, James W. Dead- 
rick in Washington, R. A. Crawford in Greene, John 
Netherland and W. C. Kyle in Hawkins, R. M. Barton in 
Jeflferson, John F. Henry in Blount, John Baxter, Con- 
nally F. Trigg and myself in Knox, and a like class of men 
in the other counties of East Tennessee. 

During these exciting days, Mr. Brownlow, through his 
**Whig,'' was writing in favor of the Union in his bravest 
words. Thus, in his paper of the 26th of January, he 
said, among other things : 

**Now let our Union people bring out able and true men, 
irrespective of old party associations. We have no 
parties but Union men and Disunionists. Let the good 
X>eople of East Tennessee see to it that not a single Dis- 
unionist shall go to this convention. There is no dodging 
the issue. Hold them to it and require every candidate to 
speak out. We must face the real issue. . . .'' 

On the 26th of January, the people of Knox county as- 
sembled in Knoxville for the purpose of nominating candi- 
dates for the convention. I will quote from the **Whig" 
an account of the meeting : 

"The meeting of Saturday last was an unusually large 
meeting of the kind. The wind and snow utterly failed to 
intimidate the Union men of the county, or to dampen 
their ardor in the glorious cause of our country. We have 
never witnessed greater enthusiasm on any similar occasion 
in Tennessee. The meeting was a complete success, one 
spirit, one niind, one sentiment pervading the glorious 
Union crowd. 

''It will be seen from the proceedings that John Baxter, 


172 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

Oliver P. Temple and Connally F. Trigg were nominated 
as candidates for the state convention. After the nomina- 
tions, ^which were made with great unanimity, and amidst 
deafening applause, the candidates addressed the crowd, 
accepting the positions assigned them, avowing their senti- 
ments and their determination to let their right arms fall 
from their sockets before they would sign an ordinance of 
secession. The enthusiasm with which these speeches 
were received was never excelled in any meeting we have 
ever held here.'* 

Again he said : 

**The enthusiasm with which the nominations of John 
Baxter, 0. P. Temple and C. F. Trigg was received on 
Saturday — the unanimity and good feeling with which 
these nominations were agreed upon — and the loud, hearty 
and prolonged cheers with which their speeches, avowing 
their principles and their acceptance of the nominations, 
were received, clearly indicated the heavy vote and the 
overpowering majorities they are to receive on the 9th of 
February. Knox, Roane and Sevier may well be proud of 
such men in the approaching convention. . . . They 
are able and experienced men, good debaters, bold and 
firm, and withal, they are as sound Union men as ever 
took seats in a convention. . . ." 

Baxter was nominated for Knox county. His competitor 
was William H. Sneed, of whom I have already spoken in 
complimentary terms. Trigg was nominated for Knox 
and Roane counties, and his competitor was Wilbum W. 
Walker, a wholesale merchant of Knoxville and a worthy 
gentleman. I was nominated for Knox and Sevier coun- 
ties, and my competitor was Dr. James Paxton, an old 
citizen of the highest worth and standing. Of Baxter I 
have already spoken, and I shall have occasion to speak of 
him again hereafter. Trigg was a lawyer, and just the kind 
of a man for those stirring times. He was bold, daring, im- 
passioned, possessing a clear and vigorous intellect, with 
intense convictions of duty. 

Campaign of February y 1861. 173 

The several candidates at once entered the canvass. 
The first appointment was a joint one, at French's meet- 
ing house in Knox county. Brownlow, who was present, 
spoke as follows of that meeting in his paper : 

** Temple led off with a speech of an hour and a half ; 
Trigg followed in a speech of an hour and thirteen min- 
utes, and Baxter followed in a speech of one hour. Suf- 
fice it to say that these gentlemen sustained their reputa- 
tions as public speakers, and upheld the Union cause to 
the entire satisfaction of their hearers. . . . We have 
never witnessed such feeling, or such a determined spirit 
to resist secession, let it come in whatever shape it may." 

The candidates now separated, Trigg going to fill ap- 
pointments in Roane county, and Baxter and I filling ap- 
pointments in Knox for three days. Then, leaving Bax- 
ter at work in Knox, I went to Sevier to fill my appoint- 
ments there. I first spoke to a large crowd in Sevierville. 
The next day I went to Fair Garden, in the eastern end 
of the county, not far from the lines of Cocke and Jeffer- 
son. Here I was honored by the presence of an immense 
crowd, numbering from one thousand to twelve hundred 
persons, gathered from a rather sparsely-settled coimtry, 
but from all the surrounding region, far and near, and 
even from the coves of the mountains. This was the first 
speech the x>eople had heard in that quarter since secession 
came so suddenly and threateningly before the country, 
and with many it was the last. A number of the moun- 
tain men had their guns with them, significant of the use 
they were to make of them in the near future. I spoke 
outdoors, with all the earnestness of my nature, for be- 
tween two and three hours. As I unfolded to the people 
the secession plot to break up the government of their 
fathers, indignation and determination settled on their 
brows. A grave and terrible calamity presented itself, 
which could only be averted by a united people at the bal- 
lot-box. And never was there a more determined crowd 
than this one. There was not a disloyal man in it. A 


174 East Termeasee and the Civil War. 

few, a very few, of those who were then present may have 
become Confederates afterwards; but they were all true 
on that day, and true at the election five days later. 

Many were there from the coves which nestled in among 
the mountains near by. Some were there who dwelt on 
the sides of the Great Smoky Moimtain, forming the boun- 
dary between Tennessee and North Carolina. These were 
not learned men ; but they had a simple, pure, unwavering 
love of country. They had learned by tradition, handed 
down from father to son, of the great Revolutionary strug- 
gle for independence, of Washington and his unclothed 
army at Valley Forge, of Yorktown and the surrender of 
Lord Comwallis, of Colonels Sevier and Shelby at King's 
Mountain. Their forefathers had shared in the glory of 
these achievements. The republic was therefore as dear 
to them as was the sacred Ark of the Covenant to the 

The next day the speaking was at Wayland's, in the 
western part of the county, not far from the lines of Knox 
and Blount, between twenty and twenty-five miles from 
Fair Garden. The crowd there was scarcely less than the 
one of the day before. It was a raw, chilly day in Febru- 
ary. The large academy building would not hold a third 
of the persons present, so the speaking again had to be 
done out-doors. Notwithstanding the chilly weather, the 
people stood listening for two hours in breathless atten- 
tion. This crowd was apparently as unanimous in its loy- 
alty as the one of the day before ; but there were several 
considerable slaveholders present, who stood off on the 
outskirts of the crowd* I had my apprehensions aroused 
as to them. However, they all either voted the Union 
ticket three days afterwards, or they abstained from voting, 
for no secession votes were cast in that region. A number 
of these slaveholders, however, later on, deserted the Union 

From Sevier county, I at once returned home, and filled 
in the time till election day in Knox county. In the 

.urns SEVIEIi. 

•I;,ifl al Kiiu/t Mo-inlwi 'iikI Fii-d di.y.',;..,,- of Tnin 



Campaign of February , 1861. 175 

meantime, Baxter and Trigg were speaking at their re- 
spective appointments in Knox and Roane. It would be 
feeble praise to say that they did splendid work. They 
were both able, fearless, and intensely in earnest, and they 
convinced and aroused wherever they spoke. In all the 
Union speeches made in this canvass there was an utter 
absence of all timidity, ambiguity, or apologizing for the 
advocacy of the National Government, at least this was so 
as far as I heard them. They were aggressive in the ex- 
treme against secession. The declarations of the speakers 
were accompanied with no conditions. There was a broad, 
universal, unqualified loyalty in every sentence. The 
speakers were sustained and encouraged by a patriotic 
public sentiment that was almost unanimous. They felt 
strong in this powerful support. The memory and the 
words of Jackson and Clay were invoked in behalf of the 
imperiled Union. Finally, the zeal and indignation of the 
people outran that of the speakers, and they became ready 
to take up arms. This feeling never abated. It grew 
stronger and more bitter until after the June election, 
when irresistible force compelled prudent silence. The 
canvas was wound up the night before the election by 
speaking and a torchlight procession in East Knoxville, at 
which Fleming and I made speeches. It had been con- 
ducted in all the other counties of East Tennessee with 
energy, boldness and determination. The names of those 
taking part in it will be given hereafter, as far as they can 
be ascertained. 

That the Union party would gain a decided victory at 
the polls in East Tennessee on the 9th of February was a 
foregone conclusion, and yet none expected it to be as over- 
whelming as it proved to be. The majority for Union 
delegates was twenty-five thousand, five hundred and 
thirty-two in twenty-nine counties. In the entire state it 
was sixty-four thousand, nine hundred and fourteen. 

It is difficult, indeed it seems impossible, to give with 
absolute certainty the vote in February on one branch of 

176 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

the proposition submitted to the people, namely, whether 
or not there should be a convention. In the ''Manual of 
Tennessee," prepared by Charles A. Miller, perhaps while 
he had access to the official returns as secretary of state, 
the vote is given on this question thus : for convention, 
57,789; no convention, 69,675; majority against a con- 
vention, 11,877. These figures are adopted by Nicolay 
and Hay in their life of Lincoln, and yet they seem to 
doubt their correctness,* In the real test in that election — 
in the selection of delegates to the proposed convention — 
according to all accounts, the Union majority in the state 
was 64,114. 

The result in Sevier county has no parallel in this state, 
and it is doubted whether there was another county in the 

^ In a note, Nicolay and Hay say : '^ We have taken these figures as we 
find them in the newspapers of that period and as they are copied into the 
'Annual Cyclopsedia * for that year.'' They then proceed to question their 
accuracy, and to suggest that t^ey have been " tampered with in the coun- 
ties, or erroneously announced at Nashville." They further say: ''In a 
recent work by ex-Confederate writers (' Military Annals of Tennessee — 
Confederate/ published in 1886, p. 60), it is stated that 'the majority 
against calling a convention was nearly or quite sixty thousand.' So, also, 
Mr. N. A. Goodspeed, of Chicago, writing to the editors of ' The Century,' 
under date of May 2, 1888, says: 'In the preparation of our history 
(" History of Tennessee," 1887), we found it impossible to ascertain the 
exact majority, but we did ascertain to a certainty that it was not far from 
sixty thousand.' " Nicolay and Hay, Vol. IV, p. 250. 

The discrepancy between the majority for Union delegates (64,114) and 
that against the calling of a convention (11,877) is so great as to excite re- 
mark. While it is contrary to my vague recollection, and is in conflict 
with the authorities just quoted, I am confident that it is nearly correct. 
I can see no reason for believing that the' returns were tampered with or 
erroneously announced in Nashville. 1 can see no reason why the returns 
should have been correctly announced as to the majority for the Union 
delegates and erroneously as to the convention. While the Union leaders 
generaUy took decided ground against a convention, some Union men, and 
possibly a great many, voted for a convention. The true test of Union 
sentiment in that election undoubtedly was expressed in the election of 
delegates. I am not absolutely certain that the majority given by me 
against a convention is correct, but it seems to be sustained by the weight 
of authority. The returns in the office of the secretary of state are : 

For a convention, 56,232 

Against a convention, .... 69,889 

Campaign of February, 1861. 177 

United States where the Union would have been sustained 
as it was there. ^ The vote stood : 

For Crawford, Union, . . . 1,302 
For Temple, Union, . . .1,301 

For Paxton, Secession, . . 1 

Total vote, . . . . 1,302 

The vote against me was on personal grounds, for which 
I could not complain.* 

Thus, the people of East Tennessee had gloriously stood 
by the Union. And yet it was a fearful thing, in 1860-61, 
to encoimter the prejudices of the Southern people against 
those who allied themselves with the Republican and Abo- 
lition parties, even for the purpose of saving the Union. 
That was what the Union party apparently had to do. It 
required more than mere courage to do this; with this 
there had to be the most intense conviction of patriotic 
duty. It was easy to go with the South — ^to go with one's 
section, friends and kindred. It was hard, very hard, to 
turn away from these. And yet, in the face of obloquy, 
reproaches and hatred, these Union men stood unflinch- 
ingly for the government. It thus came to pass, as often 
happens in the affairs of nations, that two parties, both 
influenced by a sincere desire for the good of their coun- 
try, but differing as to their views of duty, separated along 
divergent lines of action.' 

^ Sevier was the banner connty of the state in 1840. It got the edlk ban- 
ner presented hj the Whig ladies of Nashville for the largest Whig major- 
ity in the state in proportion to population* 

' Some time before this in the trial of a cause I had criticized severely the 
evidence of the man who cast this vote, and he took this occasion to pay 
me back. 

' In Knox county, where the great fight was made for the Union, the 
vote was : 

ForBaxt9r, 3,262 

ForSneed, 237 

Baxter's majority, . . 3,015 


178 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

For Trigg, 3,268 

For Walker, 266 

Trigg'9 majority, .... 3,002 

For Temple, 3,281 

ForPaxton, 226 

Temple's majority, • . • 8,066 

The vote in Knoxville was: 

Baxter, 834 

Sneed, Ill 

Trigg, 836 

Walker, 130 

Temple, 842 

Paxton, 113 

The vote in Koane county was nearly as strong for the Union as it was 
in Knox. 

The '* Nashville Union and American," of February, 1861, on file in the 
state library, at Nashville, which I recently examined, gives the following 
as the vote of East Tennessee, and is believed to be nearly correct: 

For the Union (as expressed in the election of delegates), . 33,299 
For Secession, 7,767 

Majority, 25,532 

In Brownlow's '* Knoxville Whig '* it was stated after the election, with- 
out giving the vote in detail, that each of the congressional districts in 
East Tennessee had voted for the Union by 10,000 majority, making a total 
majority of 30,000. This is believed to be an error. Tho vote taken from 
the " Union and American,'' in favor of virtual secession, is smaller by 
several thousand than it was in the June foUowing. 

Second Canvass of 1861. 179 



A Becond effort made by Governor Harris in April, 1861, to detach Ten- 
nessee from the Union — Beconvenes the legislature — ^Emissaries of 
secession active — Leaders in Knozville at work—Union leaders active 
and alert— Local leaders alone won the victory of February— Brave and 
able men — Johnson, Maynard and Nelson now join them — Grand 
Union meeting in Knoxville — Addressed by Baxter, Maynard, Nelson, 
Trigg and Temple — Character of officers and speakers— Johnson and 
Nelson address an immense assemblage April 27th— ^Threatening inci- 
dent while Johnson is speaking— Desperate efforts to frighten and 
draw the people into secession — Splendid canvass made by Union 
leaders — Secession orators brought from a distance to convert the 
people — Johnson and Nelson make a joint canvass — ^Vast crowds greet 
them — Work of the other leaders— Great Union meeting at Strawberry 
Plains— Stirring incident there— Last speech of the author at Concord- 
Declares for the Union in preference to slavery— Johnson and Nelson 
close at Kingston— Eulogy on Union leaders— Vote in East Tennessee — 
Glorious victory— Causes of success of Union leaders— Anomalous 
character of Unionism in East Tennessee— No analogy to it anywhere— 
Its far-reaching consequences. 

Before the Ist of April it had become quite evident that 
another terrible contest, perilous to the integrity of the 
govemment was at hand. Affairs were rapidly approach- 
ing a crisis in Charleston Harbor. In a few days the 
country was to be startled by the most thrilling event 
which had occurred in its entire history. The bold and 
restless governor of Tennessee was as active as before his 
crushing defeat in February. He was preparing for 
another effort to detach the state from the Union, through 
the legislature and the forms of a popular election, or, 
failing in this, to cut it loose perhaps in a summary way. 
He had already convened the legislature to meet a second 
time in extraordinary session on the 25th of April, and in 
a few days thereafter the state was to be severed from its 
federal relations, by the unconstitutional Military League 

180 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

with the Confederacy. Nashville had become a hot-bed of 
secession. To it flocked the emissaries of the Confederacy 
from the seceded states, to make inflammatory speeches, 
and urge on the work of disrupting the government. 
Memphis, too, was perhaps even more thoroughly alive 
with a disloyal feeling and purpose than Nashville. The 
leaders in Knoxville, though only able to cast 130 votes for 
secession in February were unsubdued by their late humili- 
ating defeat. They were again active in their efforts to 
reverse the popular verdict. Every senator or representa- 
tive in congress, returning froiA Washington, who could 
be prevailed upon to stop for the purpose, was arrested on 
his journey and put forward to address our citizens in 
favor of disunion. The leaders in Knoxville were bold, 
able, unyielding. They were William H. Sneed, a former 
member of congress ; John H. Crozier, also an ex-member 
of congress ; William G. Swan, a former attorney-general 
of the state ; William M. Churchwell, a former member 
of congress ; Thomas C. Lyon, one of the ablest lawyers in 
the state ; Campbell Wallace, president of the East Ten- 
nessee and Georgia Railroad; Dr. J. G. M. Ramsey, the 
historian of the state, and a number of others of less 
prominence and ability. These were men not to be 
silenced by one defeat. They were already at work pre- 
paring for another struggle. 

But on the other side, the Union leaders were equally 
active and alert. Never was there a braver or more de- 
termined set of men. All through the months of February 
and March, Brownlow had made the columns of his widely 
circulated paper red-hot with arguments and facts in favor 
of the Union, and with the most terrible denunciations of 
secession. The other leaders, all through East Tennessee, 
were busy making speeches, as occasion occurred, confirm- 
ing and encouraging the timid or wavering, and breathing 
their own dauntless spirit into the minds of the people. 
Hitherto the battle had been fought, and the xmparalleled 
victory of February won, by the local volunteer leaders 

Second Canvass of 1861. 181 

alone. Johnson, Nelson and Maynard were then in con- 
gress and their voices had not been heard* Their inflnence 
was not felt directly. Indeed, the first canvass was near 
its close before their position on the great question was 
generally and positively known. Many of the voters of 
East Tennessee did not know certainly their views until 
after their return from Washington in April. Johnson's 
position was best known, for he was the earliest in declar- 
ing his views after secession was inaugurated. Those of 
Nelson and Maynard might have been easily anticipated, 
especially those of the former, from their well known ante* 
cedents, but these were times of changes, and men of a 
life-long adherence to certain views, in the new aspect of 
public affairs, had to define their positions anew. So, 
nearly all the honor of the great victory of February be- 
longs to the patriotic people and to the local leaders in the 
party. And it must be confessed that these leaders had 
conducted a canvass with but little, if any, less ability, 
and with no less courage, than that possessed by the 
eminent men then absent on public duty. 

Now, however, those who had been absent had returned 
to their homes, and were ready to throw the weight of 
their great talents and influence into the scale in behalf 
of the Union. Nelson opened the canvass in his district 
in March. It is not known positively when Maynard first 
began making speeches, but it is certain that he spoke at 
a mass meeting in Knoxville on April 22d. Johnson, for 
some cause, lingered in Washington for several weeks after 
the adjournment of congress, and it was some time in 
April before he took the stump. In the meantime, on 
every suitable occasion, Baxter, Fleming, Trigg and others 
were making speeches. 

On the 22d of April, according to previous announce- 
ment, there was a large mass meeting held in Knoxville. 
The crowd in attendance was an immense one, filling 
Main street from the court-house to the Franklin House, 
and as far on the right and left as people could hear. The 

182 East Tennessee and the Civil War, 

speaking took place from the platform of the old court- 
house. As this was a rqpresentative meeting, and the 
formal opening of the second canvass in East Tennessee, I 
copy the accoimt given of it in Brownlow's '*Knoxville 
Whig" nearly entire, as it may prove of interest to those 
who come hereafter to know how Union men felt and 
talked in April, 1861, after the great Civil War had 

opened : 

"Meeting op the People. 

''Pursuant to public notice, the real people of the ancient 
and loyal county of Knox met here in large numbers. A 
procession extending almost the length of the business 
portion of Gay street marched with the stars and stripes 
to receive the Hon. T. A. R. Nelson at the depot, and 
conducted him to the city. On the platform, in front of 
the court-house, the meeting was called to order by ap- 
pointing the following gentlemen to act as officers : 

John Baxter, President. 

F. S. Hbiskell, 

John Williams, 

James S. Boyd, 

R. H. Armstrong, 

Caleb H. Baker, 

William G. Brownlow, Secretary, 
** Colonel Baxter addressed the meeting at considerable 
length, and was unusually clear and forcible — taking bold 
ground against the heresy of secession, and exposing, 
with a master hand, the Southern leaders in the move- 
ment and those who brought our country to the verge of 
ruin. His speech was well received by an immense and 
enthusiastic crowd of as good Union men as live. 

"Colonel Temple, who is always right in his positions, 
and who is equally fearless and bold in avowing his sen- 
timents, entertained the large and attentive audience with 
a telling speech ... in opposition to secession. He 
was most enthusiastically cheered, showing that the hearts 
of the people were with him. . . . 

>► Vice-Presidents, 

Second Canvass of 1861, 183 

*'Hon. Thos. A. R. Nelson was then introduced, and for 
an hour and a half riveted the attention of all parties, 
making a speech which, for eloquence, candor, patriotism 
and popular effect, excelled any effort we have ever heard 
him make. He declared his unalterable attachment to 
the Union— denied the right of secession — exposed the 
whole plot of the secessionists on the part of the Cotton 
States — ^repudiated the slavery agitation of the North — 
and boldly asserted that while he regretted the war now 
raging, he maintained that Lincoln^s call for volunteers 
was lawful and constitutional, and that under the circum- 
stances, with his oath of office resting on him, he could 
not have done less than call out the militia. He was no 
Lincoln man — adhorred the doctrines of the sectional party 
he was at the head of— did not approve his policy — ^but be- 
lieved that a purpose existed on the part of the Southern 
disunionists to march upon the capitol, and that it was 
the sworn duty of the president to meet the issue as he 
was doing. 

'^The Hon. H. Maynard next addressed the crowd in a 
speech of one hour and a quarter. He spoke with more 
ability and force than we have ever heard him. He denied 
the right of secession— exposed the duplicity and tyranny 
of the disunionists, the complicity of Floyd in the work of 
breaking up the government, the neglect of duty by 
Buchanan— -declared his unalterable attachment to the 
Union. . . . 

* 'Colonel Trigg concluded the speaking in one of those 
bold, manly and straight-out speeches for the Union, and 
in opposition to the whole scheme of disunion, which he is 
accustomed to make on all occasions. . . . 

'^ • • This meeting was a decided success, and made 
a deep, lasting and profound impression. The meeting 
adjourned to meet again on Saturday of this week, when 
the meeting will be addressed by Governor Johnson and 
Mr. Nelson." 

184 East Tennessee wnd the Civil War. 

As this was one of the largest and one of the most fairly 
representative meetings of the canvass, some reference to 
the men who took part in it may be appropriate. 

They were men of the first standing and prominence » 
socially, morally and pecuniarily in East Tennessee or in 
the state. It is a significant fact that the president, all 
of the vice-presidents and all of the speakers were slave- 
holders, two of them being among the largest in the 

On the 27th of April, Senator Johnson and Mr. Nelson 
addressed a very large meeting in this same city. In con- 
sideration of the distinguished character of these persons, 
I here copy nearly in full the report of the meeting from 
*'Brownlow's Whig" : 

**Two NoBLB Spbbghbs. 

''We had two noble — and we are not mistaken when we 
say telling — speeches here, on Saturday, from Governor 
Johnson and Hon. T. A. R. Nelson. . . . 

**There was an immense crowd in town and many per- 
sons were present from other counties. At ten o'clock the 
meeting was called to order by Colonel Baxter, and Gov- 
ernor Johnson was introduced to the audience from a 
stand erected on Gay street, in front of Morrow's bank, 
and spoke for more than two hours with great eflfect. He 
came out manfully on the side of his country — ^in favor of 
the enforcement of the laws, and the preservation of the 
Union, at whatever cost. He held up the movers and 
originators of secession to merited scorn and contempt. 
He traced their treason back to the days of South Carolina 
Nullifications-quoted from General Jackson on them — 
argued the question of secession — and in a word, de- 
livered arguments at once unanswerable and convincing 
on the part of the people. His speech was received with 
great applause and highly comi!riended by men ef talent, 
who have never heretofore agreed with the governor in 
sentiment. ... In a spirit of fraternal feeling, he re- 

Second Canvass of 1861. 185 

ferred to the past political conflicts that had engendered 
heartburns and acrimonious feelings, during which Demo- 
crats had said things hateful to the Whigs, and Whigs had 
alike wounded the feelings of Democrats ; but now that 
our beloved country was imperiled, he counseled the ex- 
ercise of a forgiving spirit — the blotting out of all past 
di£Eerences. Turning to Mr. Nelson, who had arrived 
after he commenced speaking on the down train, he passed 
a just and handsome compliment upon him, and stated 
that while they battled against each other for years, in a 
courteous and honorable warfare, they were now shoulder 
to shoulder in battling for our common country. 

''Mr. Nelson followed in a speech not half so long, as he 
had spoken at length the Monday before, but in one of 
marked ability, patriotic and eloquent, and it was received 
with frequent bursts of applause. . • .'* 

While Mr. Johnson was in the midst of his speech an 
incident happened, which for a while threatened to become 
a very serious and bloody one. A brass band, which had 
come up with two companies of Confederate soldiers from 
Monroe county, began to play upon Gay street on which 
the platform was erected, at just such a distance as to in- 
terrupt the speaker and the crowd. Soon thereafter the 
two military companies, with drums and secession flags 
flying, started toward the Union meeting. A bloody col- 
lision seemed inevitable, for many of both parties were 
armed. The speaking ceased for the time, and the Union 
mass stood in expectation of a deadly conflict. It was 
cool and determined. Johnson was always so in the midst 
of danger. It was evident that the purpose was to break 
up the meeting, and probably wreak vengeance on Johnson 
and others. The Union men were determined that these 
things should not take place. When the Confederate pro- 
cession, which was plainly visible to the meeting, had 
arrived within perhaps one hundred yards of the stand, and 
was still marching forward, two Confederate gentlemen. 
Colonel David H. Cummings and Mr. Joseph A. Mabry, 

186 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

seeing the consequences, and disapproving of such conduct, 
interfered, silenced the band, and by their timely and de- 
termined exertions and influence kept the procession 
from marching any further. Thus a conflict, which would 
certainly have resulted in the death and wounding of 
many persons on both sides, was averted, for the Union 
men were determined not to yield. Too much praise can 
not be given to Colonel Oummings, who was a brave 
and manly soldier, and to Mr. Mabry, who was a man of 
high courage, for their honorable and noble conduct on 
this perilous occasion. 

The speaking went on after the danger was passed. To 
those of us who were present it looked at one time as if a 
conflict could not be avoided. 

From this time the canvass in East Tennessee went on 
vigorously and incessantly. Indeed, for some time pre- 
viously, it had been actively prosecuted in Knox county, 
and to some extent in adjoining counties, by the home 
leaders. They entered the field flushed with the splendid 
victory of February, cheered and encouraged by the en- 
thusiastic and invincible spirit manifested by the Union 
party. They knew the people of East Tennessee were 
with them, and they were determined to hold this section 
firm and steadfast, whatever might be the result in other 
parts of the state. Secession had once more, under the 
impulse imparted to it by the firing on Fort Sumter, and 
other rapidly succeeding events, become bold, arrogant 
and aggressive. These things did not in the least daunt 
nor arrest this brave, patriotic people. They became even 
bolder and more embittered than they had been in Janu- 
ary and February. Many of them began to arm them- 
selves as best they could. In some counties, notably in 
Roane and Blount, companies of '*home guards'* were 
organized and drilled. In Knox it was hard to restrain 
the infuriated Union men from acts of violence against the 
disunionists. More than once the leaders had to restrain 
them from marching into Knoxville in a body, and as they 

Second Canvasa of 1861. 187 

called it, ' 'clearing out the secessionists in the town." 
Of course, the leaders could give no countenance to vio- 
lence. All through the month of May and up to the 8th 
of June, Johnson and Nelson went through East Tennessee 
filling joint appointments and speaking to vast crowds of 
people with wonderful power and eflfect. While this was 
going on, Maynard, Trigg, Baxter, Fleming and Temple 
were equally as busy in Knox and in the adjoining coun- 
ties. Many other persons, in their respective counties, 
were also at this time, by speeches and otherwise, engaged 
in rallying and holding the people firm in their faith. 

It would be a great mistake to imagine that the Union 
leaders had an easy time in keeping the people firm. 
Desperate eflforts were made to frighten them from their 
devoted allegiance to the government of their fathers. Ap- 
peals were made to them to stand by their Southern friends 
in defense of their liberties. Every base epithet that could 
be thought of was applied to the Northern people. The 
newspapers teemed with telegrams, sometimes false, and 
nearly always exaggerated, intended to fire the Southern 
heart. The East Tennessee Railroad, from Greorgia to 
Virginia, running through our principal towns, became al- 
most a continuous flame of secession fire. On these trains 
were always to be found the noisy leaders, who, forsaking 
all business, went from town to town stirring up the peo- 
ple. The arrival of a train in a village, or town generally 
containing Confederate soldiers, was the signal for the out- 
pouring of all the disloyal people shouting and cheering 
for Jeflferson Davis and for the Confederacy, and for groans 
and hisses for Lincoln and his ** hirelings." The harangues 
made on such occasions were wild and extravagant in the 
extreme, always predicting a grand triumph of Confeder- 
ate arms, and sometimes telling how Confederate soldiers 
would soon quaflF champagne in the guilded halls of New 
York. The result of all this was that the towns all along 
the railway line, except Knoxville, became disloyal in 
sentiment. Union men soon learned to stay away from 

188 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

the stations. To a casual observer it seemed as if all the 
people had forsaken the Union. 

To increase the zeal of the Confederates and swell their 
ranks, the women soon began to appear as a powerful 
factor in this contest. With the firdt sight of a uniformed 
soldier, and the sound of the first tap of the drum, or note of 
the fife, they enthusiastically espoused the Southern cause. 
The young ladies were first in manifesting this feeling ; 
then followed the mothers, then the brothers and lovers, 
and finally the father had to yield. Thus was many a 
head of a family and devoted friend of the Union led to 
join the Southern cause. The father was generally the 
last to yield. The zeal and the enthusiasm of these ladies 
were intense. Base and craven, indeed, was the yoxmg man, 
in their estimation, often expressed in words, who did not 
promptly enlist in the army and prepare for battle. With 
the all-powerful influence of the women on the side of se- 
cession, few were the young men in our towns who did 
not take up arms in its behalf. 

Realizing the necessity of converting the Union men of 
East Tennessee, the leaders in the other divisions of the 
state sent eminent orators to East Tennessee to make 
speeches. Gustavus A. Henry, who had always been a 
favorite, came for this purpose. He had been the Whig 
candidate for governor in 1853, against Andrew Johnson. 
He was a genial, noble fellow, of most pleasing address 
and splendid person, with a glowing, thrilling eloquence 
that always delighted his hearers. 

Ex-Qovemor Henry S. Foote also came, and canvassed 
East Tennessee. He made very mild and gentlemanly 
speeches, but they had no eflFect whatever. John F. House 
also came over. He had been on the Bell-Everett ticket as 
elector the year before, and was distinguished as a strong 
debater. Since the war he has served several terms in 
congress, and made a high reputation as a man of talents. 

Colonel Moses White, a former citizen of Knoxville, and 
a representative in the legislature for two sessions from 

Second Canvass of 1861. 189 

Knox county, came from Memphis to try his influence on 
his old friends. He was a man of honor and standing, 
and regarded as one of ability and great promise. A. W. 
Sales was also sent from Memphis. 

None of these men produced the slightest effect on the 
minds of the Union men, and they soon returned to their 
homes, no doubt mortified and chagrined at the utter bar- 
renness of their work. Oreater men than they dwelt 
among us, and had before their coming aroused the people 
to the danger which threatened their country. 

There was not at that time a coxmty in East Tennessee, 
perhaps, in which there was not made daily one or more 
Union speeches. Profoundly impressed with the magni- 
tude and peril of the crisis, men who never had spoken 
before, unable to keep silent, took the stump, amd pleaded 
earnestly and feelingly for the Union. Men almost uni- 
versally forsook their business to attend political meetings. 
Passion ran high. On both sides there was ill-humor. 
An accident might have produced a serious conflict at any 
time. It must be confessed that the speeches made by the 
Union orators were not calculated to allay this feeling. 
They were bold, bitter, and denunciatory in the extreme. 
The speakers sincerely counseled peace on all occasions, 
and yet their speeches were calculated to lead to conflicts. 
Indeed, they often had to use all their influence to keep 
down violence. They were perfectly sincere in desiring to 
preserve peace, for they had sense enough to know that no 
one could see where this terrible contest was to end. 

In the month of May, Johnson and Nelson, who had 
been speaking separately, commenced a joint canvass in 
East Tennessee. Vast crowds attended their appointments. 
Aside from the reputation of the speakers, the people 
everywhere were wild with excitement and anxiety. Many 
had never heard either of them speak, and all were eager 
to hear them in this grave crisis. And never before did 
these distinguished men display such power on the stump. 
Great occasions call forth the exercise of great powers. 

190 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

Here, in our own midst, was a life-and-death struggle tak- 
ing place, with strong and undaunted men engaged in it, 
striving to save the state and preserve the government. 
The issue was a mighty one. These men felt the solemnity 
and the importance of the contest. They put forth powers 
equal to the great occasion. I doubt if, at that time, in 
all the states, such speeches from day to day were any- 
where heard. Johnson's speeches were the more argu- 
mentative and convincing; Nelson's more eloquent and 
stirring. Both were bitter, daring and denunciatory. No 
danger could appall these men. Often they were threat- 
ened and in real danger. In such emergencies their cour- 
age and coolness only became the more conspicuous. In 
Sullivan county, an old democratic county, one of the few 
secession strongholds in East Tennessee, the danger of a 
conflict was so great that their friends petitioned them not 
to attend their appointment. They yielded to this request, 
when threats would have been in vain. At Concord, John- 
son was notified by the secessionists not to attend in peril 
of his life. When Mr. Nelson spoke there, after the 
speaking an attempt was made to intimidate him, but he 
turned on his assailants in such a storm of haughty defi- 
ance that they fled from his terrible presence.* 

While Johnson and Nelson were thus engaged, the other 
leaders all over East Tennessee were actively at work. I 
take the following from the **Knoxville Whig" of May 25, 
1861, as a specimen of the activity which prevailed in 
Union circles : 

**Last Satubday's Wobk. 

^'Saturday last was a great day in portions of East Ten- 
nessee. Baxter and Johnson addressed a mass meeting in 
Greeneville of between four and flve thousand — ^the pro- 
cession extending three-fourths of a mUe^ four deep. The 

^ The late lamented John F. Pate, a decided Southern man, was my au- 
thority for this statement 

Second Canvass of 1861. 191 

right spirit prevailed and the cause of secession is losing 
ground in Greene. 

*'0n the same day, Col. Temple addressed an enthusi- 
astic crowd of fifteen hundred persona at Thorn Grove, in 
the corners of Knox, Sevier and Jefferson counties. He 
spoke two hours, and some who had acted with the seces- 
sionists in February were in the procession. 

''On the same day, Mr. Maynard spoke to a glorious 
crowd of five to seven hundred, for two hours and a half, 
at Ellejoy, Blount county. The right spirit prevailed there, 
and curses loud and bitter were heaped upon the unconsti- 
tutional and corrupt acts of the legislature. 

**0n the same day. Col. Trigg spoke three hours to an 
enthusiastic crowd at Whortleberry Camp Ground, where 
the people too are incensed at the action of a corrupt legis** 

VOn the same day, Mr. Fleming spoke to a crowd of 
true men at Ball Camp, in this county, and it told on the 
tyrannical conduct of Harris and his Rump legislature. 
. . . East Tennessee is good for a majority of twenty 
thousand against the heresy of secession.'* 

On the 28th of April, the following dispatch was sent to 
the representatives of Knox county in the legislature : 

**Knoxvillb, April 28, 1861. 
To Mbssbs. J. S. Boyd, John Williams and R. H. Abm- 


By firmness and deliberation the state may be saved. 
With reasonable time for a canvass. East Tennessee will 
give twenty thousand majority against secession. 

(Signed,) Andrew Johnson, 

T. A. R. Nelson, 
Horace Maynard, 
C. F. Trigg, 
0. P. Temple." * 

^ The majority was 19,161. The result I give makes a larger majority 
than the official figures, or at least than the figures usually show. But in 

192 East Tennesaee cmd the Civil War. 

On the 6th of May, a mass meeting was called to be 
held at Strawberry Plains, in Jeflferson county, near the 
comer of Knox, Sevier, and Jefferson, fifteen miles east of 
Knoxville. A large crowd of several thousand persons at« 
tended. A horseback procession of from 800 to 1,200 men, 
four deep, marched from the depot, with banners flying, to 
a grove a quarter of a mile away, where the speaking took 
place. At the station there was a train of cars standing, 
having on board some Alabama Confederate soldiers. The 
train remained there about three hours. I quote here from 
the * 'Knoxville Wliig" an account of what occurred : 

''After our procession had passed into the gap of Mr. 
Meek*s inclosure, leading into his grove, where the stand 
and seats were erected, and where a much larger assem-^ 
blage, among whom were several hundred ladies and chil- 
dren, jrere seated, awaiting the arrival of the procession, 
at the head of which were Messrs. Maynard, Temple and 
Fleming, who were to address the meeting, the train 
started towards us at a very slow rate. Speaking had not 
yet commenced, though Col. Thornburgh was up making 
some preliminary remarks, as the remnant of the vast 
crowd was coming in and crowding around the stand. At 
the suggestion of Mr. Meek, an old man, who had served 
in the War of 1812, and who owned the premises, the few 
scattering persons still at the (fence) gap were urged to 
come in, and did so, quietly, disturbing no one. But here 
we will let Mr. Meek tell the tale just as it occurred : 


"At the request of Mr. Brownlow and other gentlemen^ 
I walked from the stand down to the railroad, to hurry up 
our Union men, and to urge them not to say or do any- 

them the vote of Union county is omitted, which was 1,100 for the Union 
and 02 for secession, making the majority as I state it. Another account 
makes the majority 19,251. These are the official figures. The majority is 
less by 815 votes than it appeared to be by the returns as published in 
some of the public prints at the time. 



Second Canvasa of 1861 . 193 

thing to the train then slowly coming by. Our men came 
within the inclosure quietly and I was about twenty feet 
from the fence, inside of my field, the railroad and wagon 
road passing along close to the fence. There were two 
men in uniform on top of one of the cars, each had a reyolyer 
in his handy and one of them had a stone which he threw at 
me with great force and precision, and I barely dodged it. 
This was followed by one of them deliberately firing at me. 
One of them knew me, for he had previously come to my 
house, and asked for water to fill his canteen, which I as- 
sisted him in filling, treating him as politely as I knew 
how. This was the commencement of the firing and it 
was without any provocation whatever. 

[Signed.] A. K. Mbbe, Sb. 

**The correctness of this statement was attested by four- 
teen other reputable gentlemen who were present at the 
commencement of the difficulty. '' 

No sooner were the first shots fired, than they became 
the signal for the opening of a general fire from both 
sides. Bullets whistled around the stand in considerable 
numbers, near which I was at the time, fired by both 
those in and on the train. Such of the Union men as had 
pistols, and the few who happened to have guns, returned 
the fire The train consisted of box cars, and there- 
fore the great body of soldiers was not exposed. The 
Union men continued to fire until the train was away be- 
yond reach of small arms. The soldiers also contin- 
ued their fire on the assemblage until they passed out of 

The "Whig" further states : 

**The bullets actually whistled over the heads of our 
crowd around the stand, cutting off leaves and sprigs, to 
the consternation of the ladies and men. 

'*But a wild and terrific scene occurred instantly by the 
rush of one thousand men, insulted and infuriated, upon 
the track, with threats to tear up the track and to bum the 

194 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

bridge oyer the Holston. Colonel Thomburgh, Temple and 
Dr. Mynatt, Mr. Meek himself and the editor of this 
paper, all repaired to the track, made short appeals to the 
crowd, and implored them not to disturb the road. With 
difficulty they were quieted. ' ' 

The following resolution was olBTered by Mr. Mont- 
gomery Thomburgh and adopted by the meeting : 

**We, a large portion of the people of the counties of 
Jefferson, Knox and Sevier (men, women and children), 
who have assembled to-day at Strawberry Plains, to the 
number of from 3000 to 6000, to consult together for our 
common good, haying been wantonly and without provo- 
cation, assaulted during our peaceful deliberations, by a 
missile thrown and shots fired from the train of cars in 
yery slow motion, by certain troops in the service of the 
so-called Confederate States, do hereby unanimously declare 
to the world, that while we ever have been and still are 
ready to comply with every constitutional obligation of the 
citizen, we can never be driven or coerced^ into abject or un* 
manly submission, and we hereby pledge to each other 
our lives, our property and our sacred honor, in the 
common defense of ourselves, our firesides, our wives and 
children from any assault, no matter from what quarter it 
may come." 

One of the strange things about this collision between 
soldiers and citizens was, that no one was injured, so far as I 
could ever ascertain. The bullets from the train seemed to 
range over the heads of the crowd. There must have been 
two or three thousand persons present, for the most part 
gathered in a mass, ready for the speaking. The distance 
to the railway did not exceed one hundred yards, and 
possibly not more than seventy-five. Many shots were un- 
questionably fired on both sides, and yet not one of that 
great crowd was hit. It was reported at the time and 
afterwards, too, that one or more soldiers were wounded or 
killed, but there never was any confirmation of the report. 
Whether the soldiers were fully armed or not, is not known. 

Second Canvass of 1861. 195 

Probably not, for if they had been, they would have 
stopped the train, and dispersed our crowd, as they could 
have done easily. A number of them were unquestionably 
armed, for they fired quite a little volley, and kept it up 
until the train passed out of range. 

The coolness and courage displayed by the Union men, 
when fired upon, showed the spirit which animated them, 
and that they stood ready to fight for their country. It 
also gave evidence of that dauntless spirit which enabled 
them to endure, steadfastly and heroically, the trials and 
hardships which were soon to follow. Neither then, nor 
at any subsequent time, did they turn back in the day of 

Mr. A. K. Meek, who made the statement as to the 
origin of the difficulty, was an old man of high character 
and standing. He had Revolutionary blood in his veins, 
and was a slaveholder and a man of property. He lived 
until August, 1890, being then ninety-two years of age, 
leaving a good record behind him. 

It need hardly be said that the speeches made on that 
occasion were pitched on a pretty high key of defiance. 

My last speech during this ever-to-be-remembered cam- 
paign was made at Concord, fourteen miles west of Knox- 
ville, on the East Tennessee Railroad, on the day before 
the election. This was in the best and wealthiest part of 
the coimty. The lands in that neighborhood and for miles 
away were rich and productive. There were many con- 
siderable slaveholders and independent gentlemen in that 
neighborhood. Nearly every one of them had espoused 
the Southern cause after the firing on Fort Sumter. Still, 
the majority of the people had not gone with them. I had 
many warm friends among the slaveholders, and possibly 
this was the reason I was sent there. I felt that it was a 
dangerous place at which to make a Union speech at that 
late day, for it was at this place that Mr. Nelson came 
near being mobbed a short time before. I believed, how- 
ever, that I had friends among the leading secessionists 

196 East Tennessee cmd the Civil War. 

whom I knew to be honorable men, and who would protect 
me from harm if it should become necessary. At one time 
it seemed that I was to have trouble. There was a very vio- 
lent and dangerous man in the crowd who had killed his 
man. He was a rabid secessionist. He took his seat not 
far from me. I think some one whispered to me to keep 
my eyes on him. As I progressed in my speech and pre- 
sented fact after fact bearing hard on the secession cause, 
he became restless and interrupted me. It was expected 
in the crowd that he would draw a pistol and begin shoot- 
ing. But a very powerful and active blacksmith, who was 
a Union man and a friend of mine, anticipating that this 
man would create a difficulty, had quietly gotten near him, 
a little in his front, and sat there watching him with eagle 
eyes, ready to spring on him at the first demonstration. I 
felt perfectly safe as soon as I saw my powerful black- 
smith ready for action. So it fell out that nothing hap- 

My speech on this occasion was unusually calm and con- 
siderate. I was speaking to my old personal and political 
friends. It was not the time nor the place for the indul- 
gence of rhetoric or hard words, but for argument and 
facts. I took the ground that there was no adequate or 
justifiable cause for secession. Then I argued that seces- 
sion would fail, and showed by facts and figures that the 
government had the ability to put down secession, and the 
will to do so, and that it would be done. I told the crowd 
in plain terms that the seceding states *' would be whipped 
back into the Union.'* Then I discussed the slavery ques- 
tion. I argued that it was then in no possible danger; 
that, with the guaranties of the constitution, it was abso- 
lutely safe ; that its highest safety was in the Union under 
the constitution, and that, whenever slaveholders aban- 
doned that stronghold, the institution would be destroyed. 
I insisted that, as a Union man, I was a better friend of 
slavery than the secessionists. But I also said that, if we 
had to choose between the government on the one side with- 

Second Canvass of 1861. 197 

out slavery, and a broken dissevered government with 
slavery, I would say, unhesitatingly, **Let slavery perish 
and the Union survive." 

The crowd seemed almost startled at these bold words, 
but preserved its composure. No such words had ever 
perhaps been heard there before, and, indeed, publicly 
anywhere in the South. If I had not been known to be a 
slaveholder myself, a native Tennessean, and had not been 
among friends, I might have been in danger. 

Thus, I had made my last speech, had entered my last 
protest against the folly of secession. My last was the 
calmest, the most dispassionate, and at the same time, 
the boldest of all I had made. I had now been in the 
field, speaking on this great issue. Union or disunion, al- 
most constantly since early in August the year before — ^a 
period of eight months. Having been the elector in this 
district in the canvass of 1860, I naturally had to bear the 
brunt of that battle. And so it came about, a month 
after it closed, that when the new campaign opened up, 
with increased passion and excitement, I was again, by 
reason of recent leadership, as well as by other circum- 
stances, forced to assume a prominent part in the new 
struggle, which began then and lasted till June 8th. Feel- 
ing in my heart the solemnity of the crisis, as I think 
few felt it, I labored with an earnestness such as I had 
never experienced before. 

On the same day that I made my closing speech, John- 
son and Nelson spoke at Kingston, forty miles west of 
Knoxville. They had been all through the mountain coun- 
ties east of Cumberland. The night of the day they 
closed their brilliant canvass. Senator Johnson came in a 
buggy with John B. Brownlow, son of W. G. Brownlow, 
to Knoxville, traveling by night.* The next day he left in 

^ Mr. Brownlow heard in some way that there was a plot on foot to have 
a regiment of Confederate soldiers on the train which Mr. Johnson would 
take at Loudon, on his way home from Kingston, and that he was to be 
assassinated by them. He and Johnson had not then spoken for nearly 

198 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

a private conveyance for his home in Greeneville, crossing 
the river at this point, and going through Sevier and 
Cocke counties, to avoid all danger of being intercepted 
and killed on the way. It would have been dangerous in 
the extreme for him to travel on the train at that time. 
By what way Mr. Nelson returned to his home in Jones- 
borough I know not. But he was not in the same danger 
as Mr. Johnson. 

Thus closed the most remarkable canvass that ever oc- 
curred in the United States. The fame and great ability of 
a part of the speakers and actors, and the but little less abil- 
ity of several others, unknown to fame, would of themselves 
imder any ordinary circumstances, have marked this can- 
vass as one of great interest. But when we add to this 
the momentous and overshadowing issue involved, noth- 
ing less than the integrity and perpetuity of the Union, 
and consider that all the mad passions of civil war had 
broken loose — ^brother against brother and neighbor against 
neighbor — swaying men as the tempest sways the forest, 
we can imagine how these facts would call into action the 
highest faculties of the speakers, and make them give forth 
utterances equal to those of any age or country. The very 
dangers, both personal and political, which encompassed 
them, heightened and intensified the exaltation and power 
of their minds. No wonder, then, that the sturdy Union 
patriots of East Tennessee were stirred as the sea is stirred 
by the storm. No wonder that with such a fiery baptism 
of patriotism, no power could ever move them from their 
enthusiastic and steadfast love of the old flag. 

twenty years. He accordingly, when he heard the news, sent his son in 
a baggy forty miles to Kingston, to bring Mr. Johnson to EnoxviUe, over 
the old stage road, instead of the railroad. Johnson protested, saying tliat 
he was a stockholder in the railroad, and that all the Confederates in the 
South should not prevent him from traveling along the common highway, 
which in part belonged to him. However, after being reasoned with against 
the folly of his course, he was induced to come to Knoxville in the buggy. 
They traveled all night. I doubt whether there was any deliberate purpose 
of the kind, though Mr. Brownlow believed there was. 

8econ4 Canvass of 1861. 199 

On the morrow after the close of the canvass, thirty-fov/r 
thousand and twenty-three of the Union men of East Ten- 
nessee, with no fear, no hesitation, went to the polls and 
cast their ballots in favor of the government of their 
fathers. Fourteen thousand eight hundred and seventy-two 
men, equally as sincere and earnest, voted for a new flag 
and a new government. Thus East Tennessee, a second 
time, vindicated her claim to the gratitude of all lovers 
of the Union. Knox county led with the largest Union 
majority, Scott with the smallest vote (19) in proportion 
to population for secession, beating Sevier, the Union ban- 
ner county in February, 1861, by a mere fraction.* 

^ The detailed vote of the several coonties was as follows: 

No Separation. Separation. 

Anderson, 1,278 97 

Bledsoe, 600 197 

Blount, 1,766 414 

Bradley, 1,382 607 

Campbell, 1,094 60 

Carter, 1,343 86 

Cocke, 1,186 618 

Claiborne, 1,243 260 

Grainger, 1,766 496 

Greene, 2,091 744 

Hamilton, 1,260 864 

Hawkins, 1,260 846 

Hancock, 630 279 

Johnson, 788 . . . . . Ill 

Jefferson, 1,987 603 

Knox, 3,196 762 

Monroe, 774 1,096 

Morgan, 630 38 

Marion, 600 414 

McMinn, 1,148 904 

Meigs, 267 481 

Polk, 317 738 

Rhea, 202 360 

Boane, 1,668 464 

Scott, 621 19 

Sequatchie, 100 163* 

Sevier, 1,628 60 

Sallivan, 627 . * . . . 1,686 

Washington, 1,446 ..... 1,022 

Union, 1,100 92 

200 East Tennessee a/nd the dvU War. 

The majority in the state in favor of separation was 
67|676. In February, the same people had voted against 
secession by about 64,000 majority. Thus the revolution 
had swept forward in its course. 

The remarkable success of the Union leaders in East 
Tennessee, in the canvasses of 1860 and 1861, was mainly 
due to two causes : First, they entered the field in oppo- 
sition to secession on the first manifestation of that move- 
ment, and never retired as long as there was a ray of hope. 
They took the start of their enemies in appealing to the 
popular mind. Second, they "fired the hearts** of the 
people in favor of the Union, as Mr. Yancy had urged 
should be done with the Southern people in favor of se- 

From December till the 9th of June, there was little 
cessation in the active and earnest work done in trying to 
preserve the government. During this time, there were 
either five or six great Union meetings held in Knoxville, 
the central point in East Tennessee. In consequence 
thereof, the Union men held that town firmly, and its in- 
fluence was all the time kept in the right direction. But 
the reliance of the leaders from the beginning was on the 
country and the country people. Every eflfort was made 
by speaking and otherwise to hold these people firm and 
united. They were kept at a fever heat of enthusiasm. 
Secession was denounced most imsparingly. Speakers 
went into nearly every neighborhood to arouse and con- 
solidate the people. Outside of the towns and railroad 
lines, with the exception of two or three counties, the 
country became almost a unit, a solid compact body, in 
favor of the Union. A public sentiment was molded and 
shaped in behalf of the Union, which ultimately became 
as overpowering and as terrible to the disunionists as was 
the sentiment further South in an opposite direction. 

At last the country people became so enraged that it 
was dangerous for secessionists to attempt to make 
speeches, except in the towns and in two or three counties. 

Second Canvass of 1861. 201 

Nearly eyeiywhere the latter apprehended danger, and 
would in fact have been in danger of personal violence in 
many places if they had dared to attempt to advocate a 
dissolution of the Union. Secessionists often complained 
that the inflammatory addresses of the Union orators were 
calculated to endanger their personal safety. But the 
Union leaders believed then, and knew afterwards, that 
their own safety and the safety of their party and princi- 
ples depended upon a bold and aggressive canvass. They 
saw, if they jdelded to timidity, or to any sickly sentiment 
of generosity, that they, in turn, would be overwhelmed 
and probably driven out of the country. So it was in fact 
a life or death struggle in which they were engaged. 
Each side was striving for supremacy. Each where it had 
the ascendancy was arrogant. Later on, in the canvass, 
Mr. Johnson was notified from three points, Bloimtville, 
Rogersville and Concord, that it would not be safe for him 
to speak at these places. 

Tlie history of Unionism in East Tennessee is altogether 
marvelous. It has no analogy anjwhere in the country. 
The States of Maryland, Kentucky and Missouri furnish 
no parallel. None of those states actually seceded from 
the Union. All would have done so, possibly excepting 
Kentucky, but for the restraining influence of the presence 
of federal armies. It is questionable whether Maryland 
and Missouri were ever loyal to the Union. A majority 
of the people of Kentucky were loyal in 1861, but every- 
thing since that time indicates that a great change in that 
respect took place as the war progressed. The intense 
spirit of chivalry existing among her people naturally and 
irresistibly drew a large part of them, and especially the 
wealthy young men, toward the South. The example of 
John C. Breckenridge, Gtoorge B. Crittenden, John Morgan 
and General Simon B. Buckner, all of whom were them- 
selves comparatively young, aroused the wildest enthu- 
siasm among these young men in favor of the South. 
They fled South in vast numbers to join the Confederate 

202 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

army. Kentucky became a yast recruiting ground for the 
armies of the South, and, like Missouri and Maryland, 
was only kept in the Union by the presence of Union 

West Virginia seems at first to furnish nearly a parallel 
to East Tennessee. But closer scrutiny reveals marked 
differences. From the beginning of the war, her loyal 
people were protected and encouraged in their devotion to 
the Union by the presence of federal soldiers. Northern 
people may not be able to realize the full import of this 
fact, but the Union people of East Tennessee, who dwelt 
for nearly thirty months, and some of them for nearly 
four years, under the Southern Confederacy, can under- 
stand its significance. How loyal and true to the Union a 
majority of the people of West Virginia were during the 
war can perhaps never be fully known, since there was 
during all that time a federal force there sufficient to 
suppress any uprising in favor of the South, if any such 
disposition in that direction had existed. 

Look at the contrast: East Tennessee was situated al- 
most in the heart of the South. It was surrounded on all 
sides, except by Kentucky on the north, by secession 
states. It was practically cut off from Kentucky by a 
wide mountain wilderness. The people of East Tennessee 
therefore had but little sympathy from their neighbors in 
their brave and noble struggle for the Union. After 
April, 1861, the loyal element in adjoining states, except 
as above indicated, seemed to disappear. There was no 
moral support left for our struggling people. They were 
left alone to fight their own great battle. If they had 
imitated the example of their neighbors, they would have 
yielded. But they did no such thing. In this dark hour, 
encompassed with appalling dangers, threatened, denounced 
and watched, neither the leaders nor the masses of the 
people faltered in their high purpose. After Tennessee 
voted for separation, in June, they remained for months 
as defiant and as unsubmissive, though quiet, as before the 

Second Canvass of 1861. 203 

•election. And here is the striking contrast. In Mary* 
land, Kentucky and Missouri, which states enjoy the 
honor of not haying seceded from the Union, it required 
the constant presence of federal armies to restrain the dis- 
loyal people from rising in behalf of the Southern Con- 
federacy. On the contrary, in East Tennessee, a Con- 
federate army was necessary to keep the Union men from 
rising in behalf of the national government. Even after 
all open opposition had been crushed out, and everything 
had become as still as the chamber of death, the dread of 
that great, determined Union element, which had been 
so sublimely evoked by danger and by revolution, still 
haunted the minds of the Confederate leaders. This fact 
induced them to retain Confederate soldiers all over East 
Tennessee, to keep in subjection the few unarmed Union 
men who had not fled to the Union army in Kentucky. 
No parallel, no analogy even to this can be found any- 
where in our history. 

Now consider the consequences following this unexam- 
pled display of constancy and patriotism. It put thirty- 
five thousand Union soldiers from East Tennessee into the 
federal army.* In battle, these thirty-five thousand were 
equal to the same number of Confederate soldiers. Sup- 
pose these men had gone into the Confederate army ; then 
it would have made a diflTerence in favor of the Confeder- 
acy of seventy thousand men. But this is not all. It 
took from five to ten thousand Confederate soldiers to 
watch and keep the Union men of East Tennessee quiet. 

^ Thirty-one thotusand is the number that entered East Tennessee regi- 
ments. Bat there were a great many who joined commands from other 
states. They joined the first command they came to in their flight. Mr. 
William R. Carter, who served with the First Tennessee Cavalry (CoL 
James P. Brownlow), and who is the historian of his regiment, estimates 
the number of those who thus joined other commands at four thousand, 
thus giving thirty*five thousand as the correct number which should go to 
the credit of "East Tennessee." Brevet Brigadier-General James P. 
Brownlow estimates the number at seven thousand. 

Whether the regiments of Colonel W. B. Stokes, Colonel Isaac Hawkins 
and Colonel Fielding Hurst are included in this estimate, or are inde- 
pendent of it, I am unable to say ; but I presume they are included. 

204 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

Thi8 force would have swelled the number above given to 
seventy-five thousand or more in favor of the Confederacy 
had East Tennessee joined the South. The direct and 
positive influence of these thirty-five thousand men in de- 
ciding battles may not be accurately estimated. But it ia 
morally certain that it was important. How many skir- 
mishes, how many battles and enterprises, were decided 
by the presence of these soldiers, no one can tell. But as 
one element in all battles and campaigns is the weight of 
the columns engaged, it follows that the soldiers from East 
Tennessee counted as much in all these enterprises as any 
other like number of men. In valor they were certainly 
equal to any other soldiers on the field, either from the 
North or the South. 

The moral consequences flowing from the stand taken 
by the Union men of East Tennessee were scarcely less 
important than the material advantages. Moral support^ 
more than physical, was needed by Union men in the 
North in 1861. Who can ever know or estimate how much 
the heavy heart of Mr. Lincoln was cheered, amid his 
many discouragements in those days of gloom, by the 
knowledge that away down in the South there were thirty- 
five thousand men, in one compact body, who defiantly re- 
fused to join the Confederacy. The courage and fidelity 
displayed by these people also served to revive and 
strengthen the national heart, and to give hope to the 
friends of national unity. It touched men's hearts with a 
higher and purer love of country, with a keener sense of 
patriotism. All over the North, it was encouraging to 
those who were faithfully struggling to save the Union to 
know that they had in the South brave and determined 
friends, who were engaged in the same patriotic work with 
themselves. Men to fill the armies were abundant in the 
North, but a brave, high, national spirit, sufficiently strong 
to paralyze opposition at home, was everywhere needed. 
This the brave Union men of East Tennessee gave by a 
heroic constancy and a sublime fortitude seldom surpassed 
in the history of patriotic achievement. 

T«nne»8ee Ordinance of Seeeaaion. 206 



Governor Harris, in meesage to the legialatiire, recommends a formal 
declaration of the independence of Tennessee and passage of an ordi- 
nance of secession — Disregard of constitution of state — ^Passage of 
ordinance^ An army of 55,000 provided for— Military leagae with Con- 
federate Statee^Army and military resources turned over to the Con- 
federacy — Competency of legislature to pass these acts denied — Revo- 
lution, and not peaceable constitutional secession— Did the Union men 
commit an error in February in voting against a convention?— Gov- 
ernor Harris— Andrew Jackson, Sam Houston, John Bell, Andrew 
Johnson, and other great men— Address of Union leaders of Middle 
Tennessee, April 18, 1861, a surrender — Union masses follow their 
leaders into secession— Vote in senate and house on ordinance of seces- 
sion— Names given. 

Notwithstanding the crushing condemnation of disunion 
by the people of the state, in the February election, Gov- 
ernor Harris was not discouraged. He determined to make 
another effort to ally the state to the fortunes of the Con- 
federate government. Accordingly, in April, as we have 
seen, he issued another proclamation, convening the legis- 
lature the second time in extra session, on the 26th of 
April, 1861. His message submitted to the legislature on 
that day breathed the same fiery spirit which pervaded the 
first one. He now took bold ground in favor of the adop- 
tion of an ordinance '^formally declaring the independence 
of the State of Tennessee of the Federal Union, renounc- 
ing its authority, and reassuming each and every function 
belonging to a separate sovereignty,'' the ordinance to be 
submitted to the people at the ballot box, to be by them 
adopted or rejected. He also recommended that an ordi- 
nance be also passed having in view the admission of the 
state as a member of the Southern Confederacy, and that 
this ordinance also should be submitted to a vote of the 

206 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

people for their adoption or rejection. At the first extra 
session the governor had recommended that the question 
as to the secession of the state should be referred to a con- 
vention of delegates to be elected by the people. The peo- 
ple were to vote on the question of "Convention*' or *'No 
Convention/' at the same time that they elected delegates. 
Now he proposed a shorter course. He asked a legisla- 
ture, the members of which were elected nearly two years 
previously, before the question of secession had come be- 
fore the people, and who were clothed with no authority 
to alter or amend the constitution, except the right to pro- 
pose amendments as thesein provided, to proceed at once 
to exercise an act of the highest sovereignty, overthrowing, 
so far as Tennessee was concerned, the Constitution of the 
United States. This was revolution. The fact that ita 
action might be, or was afterwards, ratified by the people 
at the ballot box, gave no sanctity, no validity, to this ac- 
tion of the legislature. Nothing but a convention, called 
in a constitutional way, could alter or amend the constitu- 
tion in this short way, much less dissolve the relation of 
the state to the United States. No convention, however 
called or inaugurated, had the power, according to the 
theory of Union men, to do the last act. But the time had 
arrived when no questionable constitutional provisions 
were to stand in the way of the revolutionary schemes of 
Gtovemor Harris. And yet, in the very act of advising 
the overthrow of our state and federal constitutions, he 
coolly urged the legislature "to forget past differences and 
whatever may tend in the least to distract your counsel in 
the present momentous crisis, in which we have been in- 
volved by the unprovoked and tyrannical usurpation of a 
people who, forgetting the lessons of their fathers, have 
overthrown the finest government upon earth, in the mere 
wantonness of an unnatural sectional prejudice amounting 
to sectional hate, and a disregard of those great principles 
of justice and equality upon which the federal union was 

Tennessee Ordinance of Secession. 207 

The legislature proved to be ready to carry out the viewa 
of the goyemor, except a small minority of brave men, 
mostly from East Tennessee. The ordinance of secession 
proposed provided for an election on the 8th of June, at 
which time ^'the declaration of independence" and the 
ordinance ^'dissolving the relations between the state and 
the United States/' were to be submitted to the people for 
approval or rejection. At the same time they were to vote 
on another ordinance, adopting and ratifying the constitu- 
tion of the provisional government of the Confederate 
States of America. 

Governor Harris scarcely attempted to conceal his 
disregard of the constitution of the state. He openly 
advised such a course. Hear him in his message to the 
legislature : 

''Under existing circumstances I can see no propriety 
for incumbering the people of the state with the election 
of delegates (to a convention) to do that which it is in my 
power to enable them to do directly for themselves." In 
another place he said that the passage of an ordinance of 
secession could not be "regarded other than as a question 
of detail, inasmuch as a very large majority of the people 
regard themselves as being forever absolved from all al- 
legiance" to the old government. 

Here was a proposition to change the constitution of 
Tennessee in reference to a matter of the highest impor- 
tance that could possibly engage the attention of the 
people ; that is, dissolving their relations with the federal 
government. It was the exercise of an act of supreme 
sovereignty as far as that lay in the hands of the people. 
It is universally admitted that no mere legislative act can 
change the constitution. This can be done in Tennessee, 
in only two ways : one is by passing an act submitting the 
question to the voters of the state whether or not they will 
have a convention to change the constitution, as was done 
in February, 1861. The other is, by one legislature pro- 
posing certain specific amendments, which must be adopted 


208 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

by two-thirds of the members of the next succeeding legis- 
lature, and approved by a majority of the voters of the 
state in the next regular election. If thus adopted, the 
proposed amendments become a part of the constitution. 

It will be seen that Gk)yemor Harris and the legislature 
were hedged in by two difficulties. It would take nearly 
three years to secure a change of the constitution by pro- 
posing amendments through the legislature. So, they 
could not wait for that slow process. The other mode, 
that of calling a convention, had been tried and rejected 
by the people, and it was unsafe to appeal to them another 
time. Besides, that plan involved delay also. **Why 
wait?'* said these men. **Why run any risk of a second 
defeat?'* **It is a mere question of detail," '*a mere form 
anyway." Thereupon, they proceeded to pass an Ordi- 
nance of Secession and a Declaration of Independence. 
This was accomplished on the 6th of May, 1861. In order 
that coming generations may know who the men were who 
thus carried the state into secession, I give the vote in the 
senate and in the house in a foot-note at the end of this 
chapter. Both those who voted for and those who voted 
against secession are doubtless proud of their record. 

In order to secure the adoption of the Ordinance of Se- 
cession at the ballot-box, the legislature proceeded to dis- 
regard another provision of the constitution of the state. 
That instrument required as a qualification for voting that 
the voter should have been a resident of the county in 
which he oflFers to vote six months before the day of elec- 
tion. In other words, no man could vote out of his own 
county. And yet, an act was passed authorizing the 
soldiers of the state *'to vote in all cases where, if in the 
state, they would be entitled to vote," that is, soldiers 
on duty in Virginia, or elsewhere, could vote and did vote 
as if at home in their own county. Twenty-seven hundred 
and forty-one soldiers in different places thus voted under this 
act, twenty-four hundred and fifty-six out of the state, and 

Tennessee Ordinance of Secession. 209 

every one for separation.^ It has been published that a 
majority of the soldiers in the field, who voted in the June 
election, voted * 'against separation.'* This, as will be 
seen, is a mistake. 

It is not forgotten that in the elections in some of the 
Northern States, perhaps in all, at a subsequent period, 
federal soldiers voted out of their states. If this were 
done contrary to the constitutions or laws of those states, 
it only proves how ready both sides were to disregard con- 
stitutional obligations during the Civil War. 

**But," says some one, '*the people ratified the action of 
the legislature afterwards in the election in June, and thus 
cured the constitutional defect." As we have seen, this 
was the idea of Governor Harris. This position admits 
the unconstitutionality of the act of secession. If it were 
unconstitutional, it remained so until ratified by the peo- 
ple. Tennessee still remained a member of the Federal 
Union until the act of ratification. By what right, then, 
did the state enter into a military league with the South- 
em Confederacy, and turn over to it **its whole military 
force and military operations," and transfer the allegiance 
of its people to a foreign government before the ratifica- 
tion? By what right did it raise, equip, arm and put into 
the field an army, with the openly-avowed purpose of mak- 
ing war on the United States, sending its soldiers to the 
field to fight for this foreign government? By what right 
did it displace the national flag on the capitol of the state 
and hoist in its place a foreign flag? All these things were 
done early in May, one month before the ratification of the 
act of secession on the 8th of June. 

But it is denied that any act of ratification can make 

^ Through the kindness of Hon. W. S. Morgan, the polite secretary of 
state at Naahville, I have been famished with the retama of the vote of 
the Tennessee soldiers in this election, at the several camps where they 
were stationed. These returns are on file in the secretary's office. I am 
also indebted to him for other kind coortesies. 


210 East Tennessee and the CivU War. 

valid an unconstitutional act. No breach of the constitu- 
tion can be mended this way. The passage of the ordi- 
nance of secession, in 1861, was an act of the highest sov- 
ereignty) beyond the jurisdiction of any legislature, and 
only within the power of a convention, through delegates 
duly elected by the people, even according to the theories 
of secession. It is believed that no lawyer will risk his 
reputation by denying these propositions. I need hardly 
add, that, from a Union point of view, even a constitu- 
tional convention of delegates, chosen in the most regular 
form, had no power to dissolve the bonds binding the state 
to the Union. 

The legislature, on the same day. May 6th, proceeded to 
provide an army of fifty-five thousand men, twenty-five 
thousand to be called into immediate service, and thirtv 
thousand to be held as a reserve ''ready to march at short 
notice.'' The act also provided for the issuance and sale 
of five millions of the bonds of the state, bearing eight 
per cent interest, to meet the expenses of the army. It 
also provided for raising by the county courts of the state 
**a home guard of minute men, consisting of companies 
of not less than ten for each civil district, whose duty it 
should be to ' procure a warrant from some justice of the 
peace, and arrest all suspected persons, and bring them 
before the civil authorities for trial, to prevent the assem- 
blage of slaves in unusual numbers,' " etc. By another 
act, the governor ' 'was authorized and requested to place 
at the disposal of the Confederate States the volunteer 
forces of the State of Tennessee, the same to be mustered 
into the service of said states." 

But the crowning act was a joint resolution passed May 
1st — six days before the ordinance of secession was passed — 
authorizing the governor to appoint "three commissioners 
on the part of Tennessee, to enter into a military league 
with the authorities of the Confederate States." Accord- 
ingly, the governor appointed Gustavus A. Henry, 0. W. 
0. Totten and Washington Barrow such commissioners. 

Tennessee Ordinance of Secession. 211 

On the 7th day of May, these high functionaries, clothed 
with authority by a mere legislative act to transfer a sov- 
ereignty, entered into a ''temporary convention, agreement 
and military league" with Henry W. Hilliard, the duly 
authorized commissioner of the Confederate States. It 
was agreed by and between the high contracting parties 
that, until "the said state'* (Tennessee) * 'shall become a 
member of said Confederacy according to the constitution 
of both powers, the whole military force and military op- 
erations, offensive and defensive, of said state, in the im- 
pending conflict with the United States, shall be under the 
chief control and direction of the president of the Confed- 
erate States.'* 

Totten, Henry and Barrow were lawyers. Totten had once 
acted for a number of years as one of the supreme judges of 
the state. It certainly would have been difficult for them 
to find in the constitution of Tennessee any provision au- 
thorizing the state to become a member of the Confederacy 
"according to the constitution of both powers." And yet 
that is what is provided for in this remarkable league. 

It will be observed that the ordinance of secession was 
passed on the 6th of May. And yet, on the 1st of May, 
while the state was still a member of the Union, according 
to the theory of both sides, the legislature authorized the 
governor to appoint these commissioners on the part of 
Tennessee to enter into this league. On the 7th, the said 
league, as we have seen, was consummated, and the 
"whole military force, and military operations, offensive 
and defensive, of said state, were turned over to the Con- 
federate States. And long before the 8th of June, the 
time for the election, the national flag, by resolution of the 
legislature, had been hauled down from the capitol, and 
the flag of the Confederacy floated over it, almost in sight 
of the grave of Andrew Jackson, who had crushed nulli- 
fication in South Carolina. 

Here was a mere legislative body, elected twenty-one 
months before that time, in the face of a popular majority 

212 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

of sixty-four thousand votes, given in the previous Febru- 
ary against secession, disrupting the ties of government, 
passing an ordinance of secession, transferring the alle- 
giance of the people, and turning over all the freemen of 
the state liable to bear arms, and all its military resources, 
to a foreign power, then waging war on the United States. 
All this was done in the name of the constitution, and all 
before there was any pretended ratification of these acts 
by the people at the ballot-box I The claim of justification 
for these acts would sink to the level of the ludicrous, if 
it were not for the fact that, by and through them, the 
people of the state tasted the desolation of civil war for 
four years. 

One provision of the Constitution of the United States 
is this : ''No state shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or 
confederation.'* And yet these men, while the state was 
still a member of the Union, entered into an ''alliance or 
treaty'* with the Confederate States, a foreign power, ac- 
cording to their own theory and admission. If they had 
done these things under the open avowal of revolutionary 
measures ; if they had boldly overthrown the old govern- 
ment and inaugurated in its place "a provisional govern- 
ment," their action would not appear so inconsistent. 
These things they had the right to do, according to the Bill 
of Rights, whenever the government became oppressive. 
But they claimed to act all the time under the forms of the 
^constitution and not by way of revolution. Intelligent 
men could not have been deceived by these professions, 
yet, such was the excitement of the hour, that these acts 
met the hearty approval of the followers of secession. 
The withdrawal of Tennessee from the Union, in 1861, 
was, in fact, the wildest of revolutions, under the guise of 
peaceable, legal, constitutional secession. Even admitting 
the right of the state to withdraw, the act in this case 
lacked the dignity and authority of a convention of the 
people to give it validity. 

Suppose a majority of the people of the state, in the 

Tennessee Ordinance of Secession. 213 

election in June, had voted against the ordinance of seces- 
sion, would Gk)vemor Harris and his followers have ac- 
quiesced in the result? Of course, it is impossible to say 
certainly what they would have done, but, judging by 
their previous and subsequent acts^ it can scarcely be 
doubted what their course would have been. They would 
have taken no backward steps. They could have taken 
none. The destiny of the state was already linked to the 
Southern Confederacy by means of the military league. 
Its army and all the able-bodied men of the state had been 
transferred to that power. The allegiance of the people, 
so far as could be, had been changed from the old to the 
new government. Armies, commanded by Confederate 
officers, were within the state, ready to do the will of the 
new government. The money, the arms and the authority 
of the state were all in the hands of men who had haz- 
arded their all on the success of the Southern cause. All 
had been hazarded on the success of separation, and he 
could not turn back. The army of the state had been 
transferred to the Confederacy, and there was no retreat 
left open. And what could that majority have done? 
Nothing, absolutely nothing. It must have bowed its 
neck to meek submission. 

In the ordinance of secession the legislature intimates 
that its action was based on the right of revolution, and not 
on the right of constitutional secession. It said: **We, 
the people of the State of Tennessee, waiving any opinion 
as to the abstract doctrine of secession, but asserting the 
right, as a free and independent people, to alter, reform or 
abolish our form of government, in such manner as we 
think proper, do ordain,'' etc. The ordinance then de- 
clares **that all the laws and ordinances by which the 
State of Tennessee became a member of the Federal Union 
of the 'United States of America, are hereby abrogated and 
annulled, and that all obligations on our part be withdrawn 
therefrom," etc. The absurdity of a mere legislative body 
passing a legal and constitutional ordinance of secession 

214 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

was too transparent for this intelligent body of men, in* 
flamed even as they were by the fury of the storm then 
sweeping oyer the South. So, they fell back on the right 
of **revolutionary secession." 

Who gave this mere legislative body, elected in August, 
1869, the authority to revolutionize the state, or to declare 
its secession from the Federal Union? Who gave it the au- 
thority **to alter, reform or abolish" the state government 
in such manner as it thought proper? 

It is submitted that the only power on earth capable of 
these acts was the sovereign people, through a convention 
of delegates chosen for that purpose. Such an assembly 
alone would have been clothed with the sovereignty of the 
people, and have been capable of altering, reforming or 
abolishing the state government. And then it would have 
been, according to the Union theories, a revolution, and 
not constitutional secession. 

However artfully the legislature may have expressed 
itself in the ordinance of secession, it was universally un- 
derstood, and proclaimed at the time, that this was peace- 
able, legal and constitutional secession, binding on all the 
people of the state. If it had been proclaimed as a revo- 
lution, thousands who yielded to it, because it was believed to 
be a constitutional measure, would have resisted it if placed 
on the ground of a revolution. If secession were legal, 
and legally accomplished, then such an act bound every 
citizen of the state. If secession was merely revolution, 
it left every man free to join it or resist it as he might 
choose. The leaders understood the difference, and there- 
fore they kept the idea of a revolution in the background, 
and openly talked of peaceable and constitutional secession. 

But whether this act were secession, peaceable and con- 
stitutional, or revolutionary secession, or whether it were 
pure revolution, it was equally beyond all legislative au- 

Tennessee stands preeminent in her disregard of forms 
in her secession or revolutionary work. All the other se- 

Tennessee Ordinance of Secession. 215 

ceding states observed certain forms, and preserved an au- 
gust dignity in the solemn crisis of revolution, by ap- 
parently, at least, evoking the sanction of the people in de- 
stroying and building up governments. They at least 
acted through and by conventions representing the sov- 
ereignty of the people. But Tennessee, in the face of the 
sixty-four thousand majority in opposition, assumed to ex- 
ercise an act of sovereignty unknown in constitutional 
governments. It overrode all constitutional principles and 
precedents, and substituted the will of a mere legislative 
body for that of the people, expressed in the most solemn 
form through a convention of delegates duly chosen by 

Now, these were not bad men who did these things. 
Some of them were exceptionally good. They were the 
peers of the very best of the land. From their point of view, 
they were animated by the purest patriotism. They loved 
their state with intensest devotion. They were simply 
seized with the mania of the hour. The spirit of a great 
revolution was around them. They saw, as it appeared, 
the old government dissolving and melting away. They 
believed the Union was gone. The Constitution of the 
United States, as they believed, had been violated and set 
at naught by the Abolitionists. The compact of union 
had been broken. Therefore they felt absolved from its 
obligations. Each state was at liberty to form its own 
future alliances. The revolution had shattered the old 
Union into fragments. The people could form a new one 
as they chose. Thus reasoned these men. But they over- 
looked the great fact that in war — ^in revolutions — force is 
the ultimate arbiter. Theories must always yield to superior 
power. And it was most fortunate that in this case su- 
perior power and the public good were on the same side. 
However honest these men may have been, however patri- 
otic as they saw matters, the folly of their acts and the de- 
plorable consequences resulting, will forever remain the 

216 East Tennessee and the Cvoil Wcur. 

It has been questioned whether the Union men in Febru- 
ary, 1861, did not commit an error in opposing and voting 
against a convention. Possibly they did, but it is by 
no means certain. To prove that the Union party was 
wrong in its policy the fact is pointed to, that nearly all 
the members elected to the proposed convention were open 
and avowed Union men, while a large majority of the 
members of the legislature which was convened by Gov- 
ernor Harris after the people voted down the proposition 
for a convention, and which passed the ordinance of se- 
cession, were disloyal. Some of these members of the 
legislature, in voting for the ordinance, unquestionably 
misrepresented their constituents. The question is, would 
the members of the convention, or a majority have re- 
mained faithful to their pledges to the people. If that 
body had completed its work, and had adjourned before 
the 12th of April, the day of the firing on Sumter, it is al- 
most certain that no ordinance of secession could have 
been adopted. The proposed convention was to meet on 
the 25th of February. That would have given six weeks 
for its work — ample time for discussing and deciding the 
question. If, however, the convention had remained in 
session beyond that time, in the wild and insane stampede 
that followed the firing on Sumter, no one can tell what it 
would have done. Judging by the example of Virginia, 
North Carolina and Arkansas, under very similar circum- 
stances, the convention, in all probability, would have 
yielded to the panic — to the wild delirium of the hour — 
and passed an ordinance of secession. We know that 
many of the men who were elected as delegates, notably 
such men as James E. Bailey and John F. House, after 
that event, rushed wildly and enthusiastically into the 
support of secession. So a convention might have done 
just what the legislature did. 

If, however, the convention had remained firm and re- 
fused to bow to the storm, can any one doubt that Gov- 
ernor Harris would have called the legislature together 

Tennessee Ordinance of Secession. 217 

again, and secured the passage of an ordinance separating 
the state from the National Union? That bold, ambitions 
man had his whole mind and heart set on this project, and 
no means for its accomplishment within his power would 
have been left untried. His previous earnestness showed 
the length he was prepared to go. It is therefore manifest 
that after the violent revolution following the firing on 
Sumter, there remained little hope of saving the state. In 
the hurtling clamor that followed, reason was silenced. 
Only wild uproar and unreasoning passion were heard. 
In East Tennessee only was the voice of protest lifted 
against this supreme folly. 

It is sometimes said that great as was the influence of 
Governor Harris in causing the secession of Tennessee, he 
could not have accomplished this act alone ; that it was 
the great events rapidly following each other in the spring 
of 1861 that caused the withdrawal of the state, and that 
if he had opposed secession to his uttermost, the state 
still would have seceded. It is probably true that he 
alone could not have carried the state out of the Union. 
But that he exercised in this direction a more potent influ- 
ence than any other man admits of little doubt. His 
position as governor, to say nothing of his ability, daring 
and exceeding aggressiveness, gave him immense power. 
With him alone was lodged the right and the discretion of 
convening the legislature, which right he exercised twice, 
by means of which the state was finally withdrawn from 
the Union. Suppose he had persistently refused to 
convene the legislature, how could secession have been 
accomplished? The friends of that measure would have 
been powerless, except by an open revolution, until a new 
legislature was elected in August, and had convened in Oc- 
tober. And before that body could have passed all neces- 
sary measures to carry the state out, and an election of the 
people could have been held, a federal army might have 
been in the state and arrested the whole movement, for it 
will be remembered that Fort Donelson fell February 16th, 

218 East Tennessee and the Cwil War. 

and that Buell's army entered Nashville February 25th, 
1862. There can scarcely be a doubt of the fact that 
a federal army would have been pushed forward much 
earlier, if the position of the state had depended on it. 

On the other hand, suppose there had been a determined 
Union man in the office of governor, does any one believe 
he would have convened the legislature twice in extra 
session, to consider our relations with the National Gk>v- 
emment? And can we believe he would have convened it a 
second time, after secession had been condemned by such 
an overwhelming majority as was given against it in the 
February election? 

The love of the Union on the part of the people of Ten- 
nessee was perhaps deeper than it was in any other state 
or section. Jackson's example and patriotic teachings 
were deeply implanted in the minds and hearts of the peo- 
ple. Conspicuous as he was for his many striking and 
grand qualities, in none was he so conspicuous as in his 
pure, intense and undying love of the Union. The people 
of Tennessee had caught his spirit. Another hero, Sam 
Houston, in many respects greatly resembling him, was 
beloved of Tennessee, almost as the old hero of the Her- 
mitage had been. He was at that time struggling in Texas 
with all his power to save the Union, and the example of 
that great patriot helped to inspire in Tennessee a deeper 
attachment for the government of our fathers.^ Two other 
persons, though always political enemies, and altogether un- 
like, had respectively great influence in the state — ^greater 
than any other two men. Each had his friends, who would 
follow their leader wherever he might go. These were John 

^ In the History Bailding of the Tennessee Exposition, in 1897, there was 
on exhibition an engraving of Sam Houston, " Presented by General An- 
drew Jackson to Major Andrew Jackson Donelson." 

Underneath the fae-wnUe of Houston's signature is this utterance of 
the Tennessee-Texas hero and patriot : 

" I wish no epitaph to be written to tell that I survived the ruin of thia 
glorious Union." 

Tennessee Ordinance of Secession. 219 

Bell and Andrew Johnson. Until the 18th of April, 1861, 
both were known to be ardent Union men. Each had 
more devoted friends and a larger following than Gk)vemor 

Besides the influence of the four great names I have 
given in favor of the Union, there were a number of other 
distinguished men, in Middle Tennessee, who were at first 
opposed to secession. Among these I mention Balie Pey- 
ton, Meredith P. Gentry, Neill S. Brown, Gustavus A. 
Henry, Felix K. ZoUicoffer, Edwin H. Ewing, Ex-Gov- 
emor William B. Campbell, Jordan Stokes, W. B. Stokes, 
John S. Brien, R. J. Meigs, John F. House, A. S. Oolyar, 
Samuel M. Amell, John Trimble, Russell Houston, Robert 
Hatton, and James E. Bailey, all Whigs ; and the follow- 
ing distinguished Democrats, namely: Henry S. Foote, 
Justice John Catron, Andrew Ewing, Hon. George W. 
Jones, W. H. Polk, and Cave Johnston. 

These, together with Mr. Bell, by long odds constituted 
the best talents and the greatest influence then existing in 
Middle Tennessee. The preponderance in these respects 
over the leaders in favor of secession was indeed over- 
whelming. It left no conspicuous names in favor of seces- 
sion except A. O. P. Nicholson, then a senator in congress, 
and Governor Harris ; and the former, though intellectually 
the superior of the latter, was almost powerless in a revolu- 
tion.* As we have seen, in the February election, Middle 
Tennessee, in common with the other divisions of the state, 
voted by a decided majority for the Union. And I insist, as 
I have done elsewhere, that if these great Union leaders had 

' A. O. P. Nicholson was intellectually one of Tennessee's greatest sons. 
His career was crowned with honors. Several times a member of the leg- 
islatnre, once a chancellor, then the able editor at Washinf^on of the organ 
of his party, twice a senator in congress, twice offered distingaished posi- 
tions of trost and honor by presidents, one in the cabinet and one abroad ; 
finally becoming chief justice of the supreme court of the state, in which 
position he achieved for himself a fame that places him in the same rank 
with the great jurists who had preceded him. Certainly he was a very 
jioteworthy man. 

220 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

done in April and May what the Union leaders did in East 
Tennessee ; if they had shown a bold, determined front, and 
had not only appealed to the people, but had led the peo- 
ple, as became brave men, the probabilities are very strong 
that the state would not have seceded. We can not sup- 
pose that the love for the Union was originally much 
stronger in East Tennessee than in Middle Tennessee. 
The effect of the firing on Sumter was felt in one section 
as well as in the other. Men were amazed, staggered and 
bewildered by it in one place as well as in the other. The 
difference was this : The leaders in East Tennessee de« 
nounced that act, and told the people that it constituted 
another and higher reason for standing by the government. 

In marked contrast to the course pursued in East Ten- 
nessee, certain leaders of Middle Tennessee, on the 18th of 
April, 1861, issued an address to "the people of Tennes- 
see," in which they commended the action of the governor 
in refusing to furnish troops in response to the call of Mr. 
Lincoln. They ''unqualifiedly disapprove," they say, *'of 
secession, both as a constitutional right and as a remedy for 
existing evils ;" they condemned **the policy of coercion," 
and did not think it the duty of the state "to take sides 
against the government;" they did not think "she ought 
to join either party," but maintain "her grand mission as 
a peacemaker." "Her mission should be to maintain the 
sanctity of her soil from the hostile tread of any party." 
"But should a purpose be developed by the government of 
over-running and subjugating our brethren of the seceded 
states, we say unequivocally that it will be the duty of the 
state to resist at all hazards, at any cost, and by arms, any 
such purpose or attempt." "And to meet any and all 
emergencies it should be /itZZy armed. " . . . 

This address was signed by Neill S. Brown (ex-governor) ,. 
Russell Houston, E. H. Ewing (ex-member of congress) , 
Cave Johnston (ex-postmaster general under Polk) , John 
Bell, R. J. Meigs, S. D. Morgan, John S. Brien (ex- 
chancellor) , Andrew Ewing (ex-member of congress) , J* 

Tennessee Ordinance of Secession. 221 

H. Oallender, M. D., and Balie Peyton. Notwithstand- 
ing their declaration of unqualified disapproval of seces- 
sion, *'both as a constitutional right and as a remedy for 
existing evils," this paper was regarded at the time as a 
surrender to secession. Balie Peyton and John S. Brien, 
it is believed, never became secessionists at heart, but 
their voices became silent. Return J. Meigs remained 
loyal to the Union as long as he lived. Soon after this 
he left the state, settled in Washington, and never re- 
turned to Tennessee. All the other signers at once united 
their destinies with the Southern Confederacy. From that 
time their influence was all on that side. 

About this time, Henry, Foote, Jones, Gentry, House, 
ZollicoflFer, and most of the other Union leaders, also gave up 
the Union and sustained secession. The only men of 
prominence who remained true and faithful were Meigs, 
Catron, Trimble, Dr. W. P. Jones, W. H. Polk and Ex- 
Governor Campbell. These were utterly powerless to 
stem the tide now running with irresistible force in favor 
of separation. When the Union masses saw their trusted 
leaders, such as Bell, Henry, Peyton and Brown — ^the men 
they looked to for guidance in this dark, trying hour — for- 
sake the Union, they naturally concluded that all was lost. 
They, too, surrendered to what seemed inevitable. The 
fight was over. Everything in the wild sweep of passion 
and madness tended in the direction of secession and war. 
Long before the election in June, Middle and West Tennes- 
see became a vast military camp of Confederate soldiers. 
And thus by the active aid of these once honored Union 
leaders, Isham G. Harris was enabled to carry the state of 
Jackson out of the Union and into the Southern Con- 
federacy — a thing believed to have been impossible with- 
out their aid. Tens of thousands of Tennesseans who 
thus joined the secession movement, like the illustrious 
Meredith P. Gtentry, did so not because they believed in 
the right of secession, nor that it was a remedy for exist- 
ing evil, but because their neighbors, their friends, their 

222 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

kindred were going that way. They went with their 
people, their state ^ their section, still believing that seces- 
sion was wrong in principle, and an act of stupendous folly. 
And now that secession was accomplished, every man in 
favor of it was expected to enter the army, and nearly all 
did enter the army to fight for it. And never did soldiers 
behave more gallantly, more heroically than these Tennes- 
scans on the field of battle. I need only mention the fact 
that nearly half of Johnston's army, in the great campaign 
from Dalton to Atlanta, was comi)osed of these men. In 
the fight of Peach Tree, near Atlanta, it was a Tennessee 
— an East Tennessee— regiment, the 19th Confederate, com- 
manded by Colonel Frank Walker, that came out of the 
charge nearly annihilated. 

Conspicuous for their courage as generals on every battle- 
field where they fought were William B. Bate, Benjamin 
H. Cheatham, Napoleon B. Forrest, Felix K. ZoUicoffer, 
Leonidas Polk, James D. Porter and others. The private 
soldiers were no less so. And thus through the secession 
of the state, Tennessee put one hundred and twenty thou- 
sand brave soldiers into the Confederate army, and thirty- 
five thousand equally brave soldiers into the Federal army. 


Senators voting in the affinnatiye were : R. W. Bnmpaas, of Madison, 
Haywood, Landerdale and Tipton; Beese T. Hildreth, of Oyerton, Fen- 
tress, Morgan and Soott ; Jndson Horn, of Stewart, Robertson and Mont- 
gomery ; R. W. Hunter, of Giles, Wayne and Lawrence ; James M. John- 
son, of Marshall and Bedford ; Jas. T. lAne, of McMinn, Meigs, Polk and 
Monroe ; James E. Mickley, of Benton, Humphreys, Perry, Decatur and 
Henderson; Jno. A. Minnis, of Rhea, Bledsoe, Bradley, Hamilton and 
Marion ; Geo. R. McClellan, of Johnson, Carter, Washington and Sullivan ; 
Thomas McNeilly, of Maury, Lewis, Hickman and Dickson ; Tas. W. New- 
man, of Franklin and Lincoln ; Robert G. Payne, of Shelby and Fayette ; 
George B. Peters, of Hardiman, McNairy and Hardin ; S. S. Stanton, of 
Jackson, White and Macon ; Jas. £. Thompson, of Smith and Sumner ; Ed. 
J. Wood, of Coffee, Grundy, Van Buren,* Cannon and Warren; B. L. 
Stovall, of Henry, Weakley and Obion, elected speaker vice Taz. W. New- 
man, resigned to enter the Confederate service. 

Those voting in the negative were : V . S. Allen, of Gibson, Carroll and 
Dyer ; James S. Boyd, of Knox and Roane ; Wm. M. Bradford, of Hawkins* 

Tennessee Ordinance of Secession. 223 

Hancock and Jefferson; M. V. Nash, of Claiborne, Grainger, Anderson 
and Campbell; John W. Richardson, of Rutherford and Williamson ;^ 
Jordan Stokes, of Wilson and De Kalb ; and D. V. Stokeley, of Greene, 
Cocke, Seyier and Blount. 

In l^e house of representatives, those voting in the afi&rmative were : 
Messrs. W. N. Baker, of Perry and Decatur; Sam*l Baker, of Weakley; 
Wm. H. Barksdale, of Smith, Sumner and Macon; Wm. M. Bayless, of 
Washington; S. T. Bicknell, of Blount; R. H. Bledsoe, of Scott, Morgan 
and Fentress; R. B. Cheatham, of Cheatham, Davidson, Montgomery and 
Robertson; H. N. Cowden, of Marshall; Phillip Crits, of Hawkins; J. W. 
Davidson, of Benton and Humphreys; John R. Davis, of Wilson; N. B. 
Dudley, of Montgomery ; William Ewing, of Williamson ; W. T. Farley, of 
Shelby ; John Pat Farrelly, of Shelby ; J. J. Ford, of De Kalb ; C. Frarier, 
of Henry; George Gantt, of Maury; W. W. Grey, of Hardeman; Richard 
R. Harris, of Bradley; George V. Hebb, of Lincoln; R. W. Ingram, of 
Fftyette; W. £. B. Jones, of Overton; W. R. Kenner, of Jackson; T. J. 
Kennedy, of Lincoln, Marshall and Giles; B. J. Lea, of Haywood; H. C. 
Lockhart, of Stewart; Wm. L. Martin, of Wilson; J. G. McCabe, of Can- 
non; J. 8. Morphis, of McNairy; Robert C. NaU, of Obion; Joseph G. 
Pickett, of Smith; J. D. Porter, Jr., of Carroll, Gibson, Madison and 
Henry; Stith Richardson, of Dyer and Lauderdale; D. A. Roberts, of 
Hardin; J. M. Shield, of Chrundy, Coffee and Van Buren; John Smith, of 
Warren; Jas. M. Sowell, of Lawrence; J. F. Trevitt, of Sullivan; A. J. 
Vaughn, of Monroe; C. H. Whitmore, of Fayette, Tipton and Shelby; 
Madison Williams, of Franklin; John J. WilUams, of Hickman; John 
Woods, of Rutherford ; and Mr. Speaker W. C. Whitthome, of Williamson,. 
Maury and Lewis— 46. 

Those voting in the n^;ative were: R. H. Armstrong, of Knox and 
Sevier; WiUiam Brazelton, Jr., of Jefferson; James Britton, of Greene; R. 
R. Butler, of Carter and Johnson ; A. Caldwell, of McMinn ; James W. 
Gillespie, of Rhea, Bledsoe and Hamilton; T. S. Gorman, of Cocke; A. L. 
Greene, of Roane; James S. Havron, of Marion; Robert Johnson, of 
Greene, Hawkins, Hancock and Jefferson ; A. Kincaid, of Anderson and 
Campbell; John W. Kincaid, of Claiborne; P. B. Mayfleld, of Polk, 
McBiinn and Meigs; J. Morris, of Wayne; John Norman, of Carroll; W. 
M. Russell, of White ; D. W. C. Senter, of Grainger ; A. G. Shrewsbury, of 
Henderson; J. B. White, of I^avidson; John Williams, of Knox; and 
John Woodard, of Robertson— 21. 

Mr. W. H. Wisener, of Bedford, a Union man, was paired with Mr.. 
William R. Doak, of Bedford and Rutherford. 

224 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 



Delegates start to Gubernatorial Conyention in May, 1861 — Incidents on 
the way— Meet Colonel Tumey's regiment of Confederate soldiers— 
The fiiBt regiment in the state— Its departure from home — Union con- 
yention — Appearance of a mob— £z-Goyemor W. B. Campbell nom- 
inated as Union candidate — Conyention hnrriedly adjoomed— Camp- 
bell declines— W. H. Polk substitnted— Wild excitement in Middle 
Tennessee in fayor of secession — A conyersation with Ex-6oyernor 
Brown and Judge Brien— Both professed deyotion to the Union — Both 
under the preyailing influences— Brown soon yields to the secession 
clamor— A good man— The old Whig and Democratic leaders of Middle 
Tennessee who at first opposed secession discussed— Some one account- 
able for carrying Tennessee into the yortez of reyolution— Chiefest 
among them was Goyemor Harris— The Whig leaders a splendid set of 
men— John Bell, Balie Peyton, Meredith P. Gentry, Neill S. Brown, E. 
H. Ewing, G. A. Henry, W. B. Campbell, John 8. Brien, John Trimble, 
John F. House— Mr. Bell sent to Knoxyille — His speech— Interyiew 
with old friends— Democratic leaders of Middle Tennessee— State 
might haye been sayed. 

The Union men of Tennessee were determined, in the 
spring of 1861, not to yield the state to the enemies of 
the government without using every effort in their power 
to save it. They wished not only to defeat the attempt at 
secession, but to elect a loyal governor and legislature. 
Accordingly a convention was called to meet in Nashville 
on the second day of May for the purpose of nominating 
a candidate for governor. On the 1st of that month, 
therefore, Messrs. Maynard, Baxter, Trigg, Fleming and 
the author, and i)ossibly John Williams, left home to at- 
tend the convention. Everything was encouraging at 
that time for the Union cause in East Tennessee. We felt 
hopeful, and left in high spirits. All seemed to be well 
until we reached Stevenson, Alabama, on the Chatta- 
nooga Railroad. There we met Colonel Peter Tumey, 

Oubematorial Convention in 1861. 226 

with his regiment of Tennessee soldiers, on their way to 
join the Confederate army in Virginia. His was the first 
Tennessee Confederate regiment. The soldiers were shout- 
ing and hurrahing with intense enthusiasm. Fortunately, 
as was thought by us, it was ten o'clock at night when 
the two trains met. They stood alongside of each other 
an uncomfortably long time for our party. We greatly 
preferred to be on our way. 

When Sumter was fired upon. Colonel Tumey at once 
went to work in the mountain counties of Middle Ten- 
nessee to raise a regiment of men for the Confederate 
army, and in fifteen days he was on his way to Richmond. 
He remained in the army four years, and won distinction 
by his bravery. In 1870, he was elected a member of the 
Supreme Court of Tennessee, and remained on the bench 
until 1892, when he was elected governor, which office he 
held for two terms. 

These soldiers were in all the freshness and glow of 
their first day's travel toward the seat of war. That 
afternoon they had left their rendezvous, forty or fifty 
miles away, and boarded the train for Virginia. Speeches 
were made and a banner presented. Their friends, their 
wives, their parents, and their sisters and sweethearts had 
assembled to see them off. Mothers here and there had 
slipped Bibles into the pockets of their sons. Amid shouts 
and God speeds, blessings and tears, and the waving of 
banners and the kissing of hands, the train had slowly 
pulled out. And now handkerchiefs were waved as tokens 
of love, last messages were shouted back from the cars, 
and all eyes eagerly watched as the train turned a curve 
and passed out of sight. The crowd still stood in silence 
weeping. It was the first departing train of soldiers seen 
in Tennessee. These good people will yet see many more 
trains leaving for the war, but they will never see this 
proud, splendid regiment return as it was then. No 
wonder they weep. Some of these brave boys, now so 

226 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

happy, will return, but how changed I They will come 
back one or two at a time, or in small squads, broken in 
health, maimed in battle, or perchance with still festering 
wounds. They will return with no stirring martial music, 
with no waving banners. All silent and in tatters these 
now exulting boys will come, the few that come at all, 
haying had enough of war. Weep, mothers, for many of 
you will never see these brave sons of yours again, except 
in sweet dreams. 

Ah, war is a hard, hard life I But for the excitements 
of danger and adventure, and the pleasure of merry com- 
panionship, it would be unendurable. The first day's 
march, or movement of troops toward the seat of war, is 
always the happiest. The next will be less so, and those 
that follow less and less so, as the long days and months 
and years go by, until the final discharge. By that time 
music and banners and jests have ceased to lighten the 
heart and stir the spirit, and the mind dwells only on 
the distant home and the loved ones there. 

The soldiers in this train were shouting themselves 
hoarse for *'Jeff Davis and the Southern Confederacy." 
Then, that annoyed me ; now I can appreciate their spirit 
and their feelings. They believed they were right, and 
honesty condones an error, if not a crime. These ex- 
ultant soldiers were going to fight, as they believed, in a 
righteous cause, and most valiantly they did their duty. 

After considerable delay, our party again found itself 
under way — soon passing out of Alabama and back into 
Tennessee. As soon as we passed over the mountain, into 
Middle Tennessee, we had evidence that secession had 
swept over that country like a cyclone, prostrating every 
object before its resistless force. All who entered the 
train during the remainder of the way to Nashville were 
loud, noisy and demonstrative in its favor. They were, 
in fact, wild with excitement. 

Our party arrived in Nashville late in the night. The 
next morning a preliminary meeting was held privately. 

Ovhernational Convention in 1861. 227 

to arrange the program of the convention. To our sur- 
prise we found but a few delegates present. This was 
significant of the state of affairs in the other divisions of 
the state. At the hour appointed, the delegates repaired 
to a large room in the court-house. According to the ar- 
rangement agreed upon, the Hon. William H. Polk, the 
brother of Ex-President James K. Polk, was made chair- 
man. On taking the chair he made no speech. Resolu- 
tions were then introduced setting forth the virtues and 
qualifications of Ex-Governor W. B. Campbell, for gov- 
ernor, and naming him for that office. Not a word was 
said in the resolutions in favor of the Union. 

Soon after the delegates entered the hall, to their sur- 
prise, a large crowd of people began to pour into it. They 
at first thought these were Union men who were coming in 
to witness the proceedings. But they continued to come 
until the hall was nearly full. A glance at them showed 
that they were not mere friendly spectators. They 
looked fierce and rough, and had a dark, ominous, 
threatening aspect. It soon flashed on the minds of the 
delegates that this was probably a mob assembling to 
break up the convention. There they stood, scowling 
with desperate determination, waiting perhaps for a signal 
to commence their work. They spoke not a word. Deep 
and determined purpose was depicted on their brows. 

Polk quickly saw what was impending. Not a speech 
was made. As soon as the resolutions were read and a 
motion to adopt was made, Polk put the question, and 
before the "ayes" were all well said, he declared them 
adopted. Then a motion to adjourn quickly followed. 
This was instantly put, and without waiting to hear the 
result, the chairman declared the convention adjourned, 
and speedily stepped down from the stand. Immediately 
the delegates passed out and went to their hotels. All 
this was done so quickly that the supposed mob stood con- 
founded when it found the delegates gone. 

No committee was appointed to notify Governor Camp- 

228 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

bell of his nomination, nor was any executive committee 
selected to add in the campaign. Campbell subsequently 
declined the nomination, and William H. Polk was, per- 
haps by common consent, put forward in his place as the 
Union candidate, and voted for by the Union men. This 
convention was held a little more than a month before the 
time when the question of separation or no separation was 
to be submitted to the people at the ballot box. When 
the result of that election became known, there no longer 
existed any hope, not even the slightest, of the success of 
a Union candidate. From the day of that election, there- 
fore the Union party of the state began to lose its confi- 
dence and to some extent its compactness. In East Ten- 
nessee, where the Union men did not fear mobs, the organi- 
zation was kept compact and solid until after the Greene- 
ville Convention, indeed until after the disastrous battle 
of Bull Run. That battle was a blow of such stunning 
force, a disappointment so deep and crushing, that the 
Union people never entirely recovered from it until after 
General Burnside entered Knoxville with his army in Sep- 
tember, 1863. 

While I was in Nashville I called on my former friends, 
Ex-Governor Neill S. Brown and Ex-Judge John S. Brien. 
I had known them well and intimately. In 1847, Gov- 
ernor Brown had honored me by making me a member of 
his military staff. We were always intimate afterwards. 
I had traveled and canvassed with both of these gentlemen 
in 1855, in Know Nothing days, and had often spoken 
with them on the same stump. They had been Whig 
leaders of high and distinguished rank. Brown had been 
governor of the state, speaker of the house of representa- 
tives, and minister to St. Petersburg under Mr. Fillmore. 
Brien had been an able chancellor, a leading lawyer and a 
successful popular speaker. 

While I was with them on the occasion referred to, Dr. 
John H. Callender, another prominent Whig, and possibly 
others, came in. Of course, the political outlook was the 

OuberncUorial Convention in 1861. 229 

subject of conversation. I soon found that these gentle- 
men were all more or less under the chilling shadow of se- 
cession. They seemed to be paralyzed. They had not yet 
joined the enemy, and they declared they never would ; 
yet they were evidently under the influence of the prevail- 
ing feeling in Middle Tennessee. They were timid, cau- 
tious, hesitating. 

Becoming almost vexed at the faint-hearted utterances 
and the want of courage in men who had been state 
leaders, I expressed myself strongly and warmly, some- 
what in reproof of their conduct. I blamed them and the 
other Union men for not arresting and resisting the growth 
of secession in their midst, as had been done in East Ten- 
nessee. Brown arose, and putting one hand behind him, 
and striding back and forth across the room, he poured 
forth an eloquent denimciation of secession, declaring in 
the most earnest terms his determination to stand by the 
Union. Dr. Callender, with evident mental reservation, 
and with signs of a first love for secession, also declared 
his unalterable love of the Union and his purpose to abide 
by it. Brien was not so brave and so profuse in his words 
as the other two, but his love of the Union, in the end, 
proved to be more enduring. 

A few days after my return home from Nashville, I read 
an account in the papers (or heard) that Governor Brown, 
soon after my departure, had marched through the streets 
of Nashville at the head of a vast crowd which was shout- 
ing frantically **for Jeff Davis.'' This, then, was the end 
of his boasted devotion to the Union. Yet Gk)vemor 
Brown was a good, a noble, and I venture to say a patri- 
otic man. This act was not the act of his head or mind, 
as I believe, but the result of the terrorism of the hour. 
Let no man say until he has been proven by trial that he 
would have acted differently. As for Dr. Callender, the 
first love of secession which I had that day seen softly 
nestling in his bosom soon grew into a burning flame of 
the greatest intensity. Judge Brien quietly remained true 

230 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

until the McClellan canvass, iu 1864, when, holding that 
the **war was a failure," though nearly at an end, he was 
lost in the motley party then opposing its further prosecu- 
tion. Politically, he was never seen or heard of after- 
wards. He was a brilliant man, with many good qualities. 

The old Whig leaders, and the several able Democrats 
of Middle Tennessee who at first opposed secession, de- 
serve more than a passing notice. Their eminent ability, 
their large influence, and their virtues as private citizens, 
all demand some notice. Somebody must bear with pos- 
terity the responsibility of carrying the State of Tennessee 
into the vortex of an unwise revolution, of bankrupting 
the people, the banks and the state; of sending tens of 
thousands of her noble sons to imtimely graves. Who 
shall thus be held responsible ? 

The Whig leaders of Middle Tennessee of 1860-61 were 
splendid men. None of them, possibly excepting Mr. 
John Bell and Balie Peyton, had passed the meridian of 
their greatest power and influence. The most prominent 
of these were John Bell, Balie Peyton, Meredith P. Gtentry, 
Governor N. S. Brown, Edwin H. Ewing, Gustavus A. 
Henry, Gtovemor W. B. Campbell, Judge John S. Brien, 
Jordan Stokes, Robert Hatton, John Trimble, Charles 
Ready, A. S. Colyar, James E. Bailey, John F. House, 
and E. H. East. There were many others of less note. 
The most distinguished among these unquestionably was 
John Bell. When quite a young man, he was elected to 
congress several times in the Nashville district, over the 
influence and bitter opposition of Greneral Jackson. These 
were remarkable triumphs. In congress he was elected 
speaker in the days of our greatest men. In 1841 he was 
selected as secretary of war by General Harrison. In 
1847 he was elected United States senator, and served two 
terms in that high office. In 1860 he was nominated for 
the presidency of the United States by the Whig or Na- 
tional Union party. 

Mr. Bell was always recognized as a man of great ability. 

Oubematorial Convention in 1861. 231 

He stood in the second rank of statesmen, just below Clay, 
Webster and Calhoun. His mind was subtle, astute, 
philosophical, profound and far seeing. He was very slow 
and deliberate in reaching conclusions. His culture was 
broad and liberal and his information general. As a 
speaker, in his later years, he was too dignified and pro- 
found for popular assemblies. It is said he was different 
in his younger days. He was not in an ordinary sense a 
popular leader, and yet he led his party in Tennessee for 
thirty years. This was due to his sagacity and the force 
of his intellect. He did the thinking, while more brilliant 
speakers fought the battles. There were two great defects 
in his mental character. These were : slowness in form- 
ing his opinions and excessive caution. On all new ques- 
tions he reached his conclusions after extreme deliberation. 
He would brood over them until nearly all the world was 
aligned on one side or the other. He did not define his 
position on Mr. Clay's compromise measures in 1850, 
until the debate was nearly over. Even then, there was a 
want of that direct, that bold avowal of opinions which so 
greatly distinguished the great man who was the author 
of those measures. So, at a later period, he was the only 
senator from the South to oppose the repeal of the Mis- 
souri Compromise line, yet it was so late before he defined 
his position that it had but little effect. 

Mr. Bell was no leader in a great crisis. He was not 
only slow and indecisive, but was more or less timid at 
such times. Physically, he was regarded as a man of 
courage, but he seemed to be powerless to resist a counter 
current of public opinion in times of high excitement. 
Had one insulted or wronged him, he would have been 
prompt to resent or punish the outrage. But, let the 
public opinion of a section be turned against him, or let a 
howling crowd call him an Abolitionist or a traitor to the 
South, and it affected him as the rage of an armed enemy 
could not. 

So, when the crowd waited on him, after the firing on 

232 East Tennessee and the CivU War. 

Fort Sumter, with music and shouting and hurrahs, and 
called him out for a speech, he knew it was a summons to 
surrender. No doubt, it was an hour of terrible mental 
agony. His mind, I venture to say, never assented to the 
position he assumed that night. His heart revolted at the 
alliance he there made with his old enemies, but a fierce, 
an omnipotent, an overpowering Southern sentiment was 
around him and he yielded. In a speech made in Knox- 
ville, after this, on June 6, 1861, he was reported as 
saying ; 

**I have already told you that I have ever opposed se- 
cession as a heresy — I have opposed the separation of the 
state from the Federal Union — ^I have opposed the South- 
em Confederacy, and I see no necessity now for assuming 
a new position. But, by what I have said, you will see 
that I have placed my neck in the halter. I am a rebel." ' 

With Mr. Bell's life-long views, he could not fail to re- 
alize the incongruity of his new position. He denied the 
right of secession. His position was in marked contrast 
with that of those who thought secession was a legal and 
a constitutional act. These believed they had the right to 
secede, and, therefore, that secession was no offense under 
the law. Mr. Bell thought otherwise. He had no heart 
for the cause he had just espoused. He yielded to the 
terrible pressure around him. He had too long fought 
nullification and secession to fall in love with them in his 
mature old age. His prejudices were strong and invet- 
erate, and, being a mild man, he was little inclined to 
change opinions. He was firm and immutable in his con- 
victions. He had also been, too long the target for the 
poisoned arrows of the very men he had just joined, to 
either love or sympathize with them in their ambitious 
projects. Their success would be the downfall of all his 
long -cherished dreams. In fact, the hour that he surren- 
dered to the Southern Confederacy was the mournful end 

^ Possibly this was bis Nasbville speecb. 

Gubernatorial Convention in 1861. 233 

of all his hopes, either in the North or the South. He 
fell, never to rise again. 

Suppose Mr. Bell, instead of yielding to the clamor of a 
crowd of excited men and to the demands of a despotic 
public opinion, had remained firm and submitted to be 
driven out of his city and state, as a fugitive and an ex- 
ile, by the power of public opinion, as Justice John Catron 
and Return J. Meigs did, how different his fate might have 
been I How grandly he would have appeared in history I 
He would have been the most eminent citizen of the South 
who had remained true to the Union. His recent prestige 
as the candidate of the Constitutional Union party for the 
presidency, would have received additional luster from his 
patriotic sacrifice. He would have become the most popu- 
lar as well as most conspicuous statesman in the country, 
next after Mr. Lincoln. Honors would have fallen on him 
without stint. In 1864, he would almost certainly have 
been placed on the presidential ticket with Mr. Lincoln, 
and on the assassination of the latter, would have become 
president — ^the dream of his life. He had no secret seces- 
sion sympathies to tempt him when he had gained the object 
of his ambition. Every fiber of his heart was true to the 
Union. Thus it might have come to pass that the great 
object of Mr. Bell's life, by agencies more potent than 
man's designing, and altogether beyond his ken or control, 
would have been attained. He was in many respects in 
full accord with the Republican party, which had just ob- 
tained control of the government. He had supported the 
compromise measures of 1850, had opposed the repeal of 
the Missouri Compromise, and had opposed the Kansas- 
Nebraska Bill. He was conservative in sentiment and 
broad and national in view. The old Whig party, which 
constituted the larger part of the Republican party, would 
have supported him in preference to a Southern Democrat, 
who had been so recently allied with the Breckenridge Dis- 
union party. 

In the early days of June, 1861, Mr. Bell was sent to 

234 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

Knoxville to gain over the Union men to the cause of se- 
cession. I say **sent," because I am morally certain that 
he would not have gone on such a mission, to his old 
and intimate friends, of his own volition. Secession was 
exacting in its demands. It expected the most perfect 
obedience. To hesitate was to be doubted. Mr. Bell had 
no heart for this work anywhere, but to go to Knoxville, 
in his new role as a secession speaker, and meet Brownlow, 
his most devoted, his life-long friend, and other friends — 
this was gall and worm-wood to his proud spirit. Yet he 
was bidden to go and he had to obey. An appointment 
was made for him to speak in the court-house on the 6th 
of June. His audience was small and composed almost 
exclusively of secessionists. The Union men would not at- 
tend. Not a single Union leader was present.* 

After he had finished his speech, which was said to have 
been cold and less than half-hearted, he walked across the 
street to my office, about one hundred yards away. It so 
happened that Brownlow and two or three others, old 
friends of Mr. Bell, were with me. I think it was prear- 
ranged that Mr. Bell and Mr. Brownlow should meet there. 
Among those present, as I recollect, were Perez Dickinson, 
John Williams, John Fleming, possibly C. F. Trigg and 
Wm. Rule, then a young man, a part of the time. The 
meeting was embarrassing all around. I am ashamed to 
say that not one present had called on him. After the 
usual formal remarks, Mr. Bell said, in a half-sad and 
half-complaining tone : **I see that none of my old friends 
were over to hear me speak." '*No," said Mr. Brownlow, 
*'we were not present, and did not intend being. We did 

^ Daring this trip Mr. Bell spoke also at Athens. In his speech he de- 
plored the division of opinion and alienation of feeling which had crept 
in among his old friends. Turning to the venerable John McGaaghey, 
he said : '' There is my friend, Mr. McGaaghey, between whom and myself 
there used to be no difference in our views. I know not how he stands in 
reference to these new questions." " I am still/' said Mr. McGaughey, in 
his gentle, earnest voice, ** for the Union, the constitution and the enforce- 
ment of the laws." 

Ovbernatorial Convention of 1861. 235 

not wish to witness the spectacle of your being surrounded 
by your enemies, who a few months ago were denouncing 
you as a traitor. We did not wish to hear these men 
shouting for you and see you in such a position.*' Mr. 
Brownlow then poured forth a torrent of abuse and denun- 
ciation of secession. Mr. Bell made no attempt to defend 
them, nor indeed to defend his own course. He listened 
politely, and acted as if he felt his awkward position. But 
no one uttered a word of censure or an unkind remark 
about him personally. All present had too much respect 
for his dignity, his exalted worth and his greatness, to 
wound him. He seemed sad and dejected. Both he and 
those present were under unusual restraint and embarrass- 

Finally, to relieve the situation, I invited them all to 
walk to my house, nearby, and take a glass of wine. Ac- 
cordingly, we went there. Under the stimulating influ- 
ence of the new surroundings, the conversation soon be- 
came free, frank and cordial. While there some one said : 
**Mr. Bell, if you and the other Union leaders in Middle 
Tennessee could have foreseen what might be done, and 
had stood firm and taken the stump for the Union, and 
boldly rallied the people, as was done in East Tennessee, 
the state might have been saved." He answered sub- 
stantially as follows : **Yes, I see how it might possibly 
have been, but it is now too late." This was said with 
deep and pathetic sadness. Other remarks were made by 
him during the hour passed in my parlor indicating, but 
not expressing, his embarrassment in his present position. 
But he expressed no regret, made no apology for his 
course. At the end of an hour or more, we all parted in 
sadness, but with unabated kindness. I never saw Mr. 
Bell after this memorable day. He adhered to the new 
position he had assumed. On the evacuation of Nash- 
ville, the place of his residence, by the Confederate army, 
strange to say, he left with it, to follow its changing and 
eventful fortunes. He wandered from point to point 

236 East Tennessee and the Civil Wa/r. 

through the South, a disappointed, sorrowing old man, 
with no home, and worse than all, with no country he 
could call his own, uncertain, no doubt, whether the defeat 
or the triumph of his cause would be the greater calamity 
to him. When the war closed so suddenly in one general 
crash in the spring of 1865, he finally ventured to return 
to his former home, broken in health *and in fortune, to 
find and receive at the hands of his old friend, Brownlow, 
who was then governor, that kind reception and consid- 
eration so soothing to him in that dark hour. It must 
have been to the magnanimous mind of Brownlow a source 
of infinite satisfaction to be in a position to assist and 
protect Mr. Bell in the time of his greatest need and 

Mr. Bell was not, in my opinion, a willing secessionist. 
It was the panic of the hour that made him renounce the 
Union. There was not a drop of disloyal blood in his 
veins. Yet he must be held responsible at the bar of pul> 
lie opinion for his acts. The plea that he yielded to over- 
powering necessity will scarcely avail. Mr. Bell was the 
leader of the Union party, not only in this state, but 
throughout the whole country. His position as such de- 
manded constancy and courage. When, therefore, he 
abandoned his standard, to say the least of it, he was guilty 
of a great error. Most gladly would I offer a justification, 
if I could. He was my friend. When I was quite a 
young man, he had rendered me a political favor of inesti- 
mable value. I never ceased to be grateful to him. From 
time to time, ever afterwards, as before, I rendered him 
such returns and services as I could. I at all times gave 
him a true, a sincere and a hearty allegiance. I served 
him with grateful fidelity. I had done my share in secur- 
ing his nomination, and in carrying Tennessee for him in 
the presidential election the year before. At this late day, 
after the lapse of more than a third of a century, with sad- 
ness and sincerest affection, I recall the many virtues of 
that pure, great and unfortunate man. 

Gubernatorial Conversion in 1861. 237 

There never was any serious question, after the death of 
Hugh Lawson White, in 1840, as to the preeminence of 
Mr. Bell oyer the other great Whig leaders of the state. 
The only one among them who was his equal in ability 
was Spencer Jamagin of East Tennessee. He was, per- 
haps, in mere intellectual power, quite the equal, if not 
the superior, of Mr. Bell, or any other man ever bom in 
the state, but in all things else, greatly his inferior. 
Ephraim H. Foster was eloquent and magnificent, but in 
breadth and profound thought he was no equal to Mr. 
Bell. James C. Jones, while a peerless popular speaker 
and leader, was not distinguished for grasp and force of 
intellect. As to the other Middle Tennessee leaders, still 
alive in 1860, excepting Mr. Gentry, there could be no 
doubt as to their inferiority to Mr. Bell. 

Meredith P. Gtentry was unquestionably a notable man. 
In many respects he was the superior of Mr. Bell. As a 
speaker he was greatly above him. Indeed, in this re- 
spect, no man in the state, since the death of Felix 
Grundy, equaled him, except the lamented and brilliant 
William T. Haskell. The latter surpassed all of his con- 
temporaries, either in or out of the state, in dazzling bril- 
liancy. Mr. (Sentry was a strong, bold thinker, as well as 
a most powerful and fascinating speaker. His voice was 
something phenomenal. He was lofty in manner, daring 
in thought, sublime in bearing. Barely had there been 
bom a more exalted nature. Yet he lacked that steady, 
deep gaze, that broad comprehensive and philosophical in- 
sight which Mr. Bell possessed. 

Balie Peyton had been a prominent character in this 
state, as well as in the nation, as far back as 1836. He 
had been a bright, indeed rather a brilliant man. But he 
was now in his decadence, and was far from being the 
strong man he had been twenty-five years before. As he 
grew old, he lost that boldness and fiery energy which he 
once possessed. 

Ex-Governor Neill S. Brown was a man of excellent 

238 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

ability and a fine speaker. He had great influence, and 
commanded the respect and confidence of his party in a 
high degree. But in times of trial and danger he was 
wanting in the boldness necessary for a leader. He lacked 
that unfaltering courage which distinguished Gtentry and 
Peyton. Altogether he was a most worthy and valuable 

Edwin H. Ewing had been more distinguished of late 
years as a very fine lawyer and well-informed gentleman 
than as a politician. A number of years before he had 
been a member of congress. He alwa3rs took a deep 
interest in politics, and was regarded as a very able 
man. As a high-toned, pure gentleman, none stood 

Gustavus A. Henry was one of the most elegant gentle- 
men and delightful, graceful and eloquent orators we ever 
had in the state. But he was never distinguished for 
great power of intellect. He too, like (Jovemor Brown, 
lacked that firmness and courage necessary in leaders in 
perilous times. 

Governor W. B. Campbell, who was nominated as the 
Union candidate for governor, was a brave soldier, a spot- 
less gentleman, and a true and noble patriot. His ability 
was very fair, but he possessed none of that contageous 
enthusiasm essential to great leaders in times of revolu- 
tion. As a popular leader, he could not draw men to him- 
self as if by a magnet. As a soldier, men would have fol- 
lowed him to the cannon's mouth. During the Mexican 
War he commanded a regiment of Tennessee troops, and 
in the battle of Monterey he won imperishable laurels by 
his bravery. His regiment was the first to storm and 
carry the strong fortress, though this honor has been 
claimed for Colonel Jefferson Davis' regiment also. He 
was a relative of Colonel William Campbell of King's 
Mountain fame, and a grandson of Colonel Arther Camp- 
bell, of whom I have spoken elsewhere. In courage he 
was the equal of his distinguished kinsmen. At one time 

Oubematorial Corwention in 1861. 23& 

he filled with great acceptability the office of circuit court 
judge. He served with credit as a member of congress. 
In 1851, the Whig party nominated him for governor, to 
which office he was elected over that spotless soldier, 
Governor Trousdale, a veteran of the War of 1812 and of 
the Floridas under General Jackson. Governor Campbell 
was honorable and exalted in all the relations of life. 
When the war of 1861 came on, he espoused the cause of 
the Union, and remained till his death — after its close— its 
devoted friend. All men had confidence in him. Presi- 
dent Lincoln made him a brigadier-general in the Uniou 
army early in the war. He accepted the commission and 
took the oath required, but failing health forced him to 
resign. If the people of the state had been called upon to 
name the citizen most eminent for virtue, honor, and all 
the qualities that go to make the highest specimen of noble 
manhood, probably a majority would have pointed to Gov- 
ernor W. B. Campbell. 

John Trimble was as true and as spotless in integrity aa 
any man in the state. He belonged to a class of men of 
which but few are seen in these latter days — ^honest, inde- 
pendent, outspoken and fearless for truth and right. He 
was scholarly, reflective and retiring. His intellect was 
bright and original. These quaUties kept him from be- 
coming an idol of the people. Indeed he was too proud 
spirited, too independent, too self-sustained to seek popular 
applause. Yet few men enjoyed so large a share of the 
confidence of the people. During the war he was an un- 
flinching, outspoken Union man, and never changed, and 
never hesitated to avow his sentiments openly even in the 
midst of the war. In 1867 he served one term in congress, 
representing the Nashville district. 

John F. House was and still is (for he and E. H. East 
and A. S. Colyar alone of all I have named are now liv- 
ing) a man of more than ordinary ability. As a thinker 
and reasoner, he is clear and logical, as a speaker, ani- 
mated, pleasing and strong. In 1860 he was on the Bell- 

240 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

Everett electoral ticket, and as such added to his already 
good reputation as an able man. Early after the presi- 
dential election in 1860, he began to waiver and hesitate 
as to his duty in the changed condition of the country. 
However he remained a Union man until the spring of 
1861. He finally espoused the Southern cause. After the 
war he was elected for several successive terms to congress, 
where he made a national reputation as a debater and a 
democratic leader. 

Judge John S. Brien was by nature a very strong man. 
He was an able lawyer and a powerful popular speaker. 
He, too, like Bell, Brown and Henry, was wanting in that 
defiant disregard of public opinion and threatened danger 
which must always characterize a great and a successful 
leader. But, after all, hd adhered to the Union long after 
all the others I have named, except Peyton and Trimble, 
had gone over to the enemy. 

Charles Ready was a learned lawyer and an upright 
citizen, commanding the esteem and sincere respect of a 
large circle of friends. Before the war he served several 
terms in congress with credit to himself, shedding honor 
on his intelligent constituency. 

Robert Hatton at an unusually early age became suffi- 
ciently prominent to be nominated in 1857 by the Whig 
party for governor, against Isham G. Harris, one of the 
ablest and most successful men ever in the state. After 
the firing on Fort Sumter, Mr. Hatton espoused the cause 
of the South, raised a regiment of men, went with it to 
Virginia, where he early fell in battle while still a young 
man, bravely fighting for Southern independence. Had 
he survived the war, the chances are that his career 
would have been as bright as the promise of his early 
years led his friends to hope. 

Jordan Stokes, who was descended from the best North 
Carolina blood, was an eminent and most successful law- 
yer. He was never a politician in the ordinary sense of 
the term, though he served once or oftener in the legisla- 

Gubernatorial Convention in 1861. 241 

ture. His intellect was bright, clear and penetrating. 
He was a beautiful and accomplished orator. In his pri- 
vate life he was indeed an ideal citizen. In person he was 
tall, graceful and handsome, a model of manly elegance 
and stately dignity. His heart was genuine and true. 
Like refined gold, there was no dross in it. In politics 
he was an old-line Whig. When the war came on, true to 
his Whig training and convictions, he was an ardent Union 
man ; and though he quietly acquiesced in the act of se- 
cession, he never lost his love of the Union. Like Peyton, 
Polk, Campbell, Brien, Dr. Jones, Trimble, Meigs, and 
Justice Catron, he never gave up his first love. In his 
later years, after the war, for reasons easily understood 
and possibly justifiable under the circumstances, he co-op- 
erated generally with the Democratic party, like many 
others in Tennessee, yet he was never thoroughly in sym- 
pathy with that party. He still remained an old-line 
Whig. But few men have lived in Tennessee more wor- 
thy to be held up to young men as a model for their imita- 
tion than Jordan Stokes. 

A. S. Colyar was also a lawyer and an old-line Whig. 
In the early development of the secession movement he 
was earnest in his opposition to it, and active in his exer- 
tions to defeat it. In the spring of 1861 he abandoned 
the Union cause, and gave the weight of his excellent tal- 
ents and his influence to the cause of the South. After 
the secession of Tennessee he was elected and served for 
one term as a member of the Confederate congress. Since 
the war Mr. Colyar, while always independent and often 
liberal and broad-minded in his views, has co-operated 
with the Democratic party. As a citizen he has con- 
stantly been progressive and public-spirited, at all times 
striving to promote the welfare of the state. In these re- 
spects no man deserves higher recognition. He is a man 
of decided versatility of talents ; an able lawyer, an ear- 
nest politician, a vigorous writer and editor, an advanced 
thinker, and the advocate of intellectual progress and moral 

242 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

and material development. Though an old man, his men- 
tal activity is still unabated. 

Another prominent Whig was James E. Bailey. He 
was a man of more than ordinary worth and talents. In 
1861, he adhered to the Union until the state seceded. 
During the war, he rose to the rank of colonel in the Con- 
federate army. After the war, he won high rank at the 
bar as a learned and able lawyer. In 1877, he succeeded 
to the seat of Andrew Johnson, by regular election, in the 
United States senate, and served in that body with ability 
and dignity, winning considerable reputation. 

E. H. East was a young man in 1861, but then gave 
promise of the distinction he has since won as an eminent 
lawyer, a jurist, an upright citizen. The state has no 
more worthy son, and but few of superior powers. He 
was a warm Union man during the war, and while very 
conservative and non-partisan in feeling and action, he 
still entertains his old national sentiments. 

The men I have named constituted an unusually strong 
and powerful body of leaders. Besides these, there were 
five Democrats of great influence who were true to the 
Union, namely. Cave Johnson, W. H. Polk, Andrew 
Ewing, Ex-Senator Henry S. Foote, and Hon. George W. 
Jones. Both Foote and Jones finally joined the secession 
party, and both served in the lower house of the Confed- 
erate congress. Together these Whig and Democratic 
statesmen possessed, as an aggregate, every essential ele- 
ment of successful leadership : the public confidence, the 
mind to think and direct, the eloquence to arouse and per- 
suade, the logic to convince, the courage to dare and exe- 
cute. On the side of secession, there was no such array 
of ability in Middle Tennessee nor in the state. Grovernor 
Harris and A. 0. P. Nicholson were the only men of equal 
ability. If these Union men had stood together from the 
first active development of secession in South Carolina, in 
December, 1860, and had from that time onward boldly 
kept the stump ; had spoken, written, worked for the 

OvherrMUmal Corwention in 1861. 243 

Union, and waved the old flag ; if they had denounced and 
defied secession, as was done in East Tennessee, Middle 
Tennessee in all probability might have been held firm 
to the Union. This is a bold assertion ; but look at the 

In February, Davidson county, in which Nashville is 
situated, gave a majority of 2,548 for the Union. In June, 
the same county gave 5,636 votes for separation and 402 
against it, or 5,233 majority in favor of that measure. 
The vote of Shelby county (Memphis) is even more aston- 
ishing. In February, that county gave 5,689 for the 
Union and 197 for secession. In June, the majority for 
secession was 7,132, only five men voting the Union ticket. 
These were the two largest counties in the state, and are 
taken as fairly representative of the change in many of the 
counties in Middle and West Tennessee. 

Again, in February, the state went for the Union in 
roimd numbers by siirty-four thousand majority. In June, 
the majority had changed to the other side, and was fifty- 
seven thousand for separation. Thus there was a change 
of over sixty-four thousand votes. Now, take Knox, the 
third largest county in the state : in February, the Union 
majority, as indicated by the election of delegates to the 
convention, was 3,055 ; and in June it was 1,975, or a fall- 
ing oflf of only 1,080 in the majority, or a change of only 
about 640 votes. The differing results are easily accounted 
for. In Knox, indeed in all East Tennessee, the Union 
leaders took the stump in January and kept it until the 
close of the second canvass in June. They raised the old 
flag and called on the people to rally around it. They did 
not sit timorously waiting until secession had overborne 
all resistance and stifled all free speech ; but they took the 
start, kept the start, and held secession in check, so that it 
never gained any ascendency. The same thing might 
have been done in the other divisions of the state, it is be- 
lieved, but not with such marked success, if there had 
been bold leaders there. A large majority of the people 

244 East Tennessee and the OivU War. 

were loyal, as the February election unquestionably demon- 
strated. But when the people found themselves deserted 
by those they were accustomed to follow, they naturally 
lost heart and courage, and in the mad excitement and ter- 
ror of the hour, they followed their panic-stricken leaders 
oyer into the camp of secession. 

AboUHonum. 245 



Preparations for war in 1861— The Abolition party— The Free-soil party- 
Difference between the two— The two merged into the Bepablican 
party— Abolitionists narrow and bitter— Made war on the constitu- 
tion—Objects and motives of " Ckmrisonian Abolitionists " described by 
Henry Wilson — Only a limited number of these— Abolitionists and 
Secessionists working toward the same end, the destruction of the gov- 
ernment—Attempt to rescue Anthony Bums in Boston— Violence and 
bloodshed — Public meetings in Boston advocating violence — Addressed 
by Wendell Phillips and others— "The Boston Anti-Man Hunting 
Society " — Anti-slavery sentiment in the South in early days— Jeffer- 
son Bandolph proi>oses emancipation in legislature of Virginia — Aboli- 
tion agitation causes a revulsion of feeling in slave states— Garrison's 
" Liberator" — New England Anti-slavery Society— National Society de- 
clares for a dissolution of the Union — Goorge Tickner Curtis on eman- 
cipation — ^Independence and luxurious life of slaveholders— Slow to 
abandon slavery— Capital invested in it— Profits of— Difficulties in the 
way of emancipation — Mutual reproaches— Senator Hanmiond — Failure 
to execute the Fugitive Slave law by certain states— The ** Higher Law " 
doctrine considered— John Brown a violator of law— Effect of his death 
— ^Mr. Webster on the non-execution of Fugitive slave law — Declares 
forcible resistance to it " treasonable "—Wendell Phillips and Theodore 
Parker proclaim a "higher law" — ^Alexander Stephens to Mr. Lin- 
coln—Persecution of Mr. Webster— Whittier on Mr. Webster— Crime 
of the Abolitionists— This no Justification of secession— A portion of 
the people of both sections blamable for the Civil War— Honesty of 
Garrison and associates not questioned. 

We have brought our narrative down to June, 1861. 
Fort Sumter had now been fired on and reduced. The 
noise of the first fatal shot had sounded all over the land. 
Suddenly a nation of warriors sprang to its feet. From 
Maine to Mexico the sound of fife and drum and bugle was 
heard calling the people to arms. Men were everywhere 
rushing to the tented field. In the din and tumult of 
preparation business was suspended. The plow was left 
standing in its furrow, the fire still blazing in the shop and 

246 East Tennessee and the^CivU War. 

furnace. Mad passions had seized the minds of men. 
Dark columns of angry, determined men were seen moving 
into position. Squadrons of horsemen with flying ban- 
ners were pressing to the front. All over the land^ both 
North and South, there were hurry and bustle, martial 
music and mustering hosts, and preparations for coming bat- 
tle and blood. And these were brethren thus going to war I 
What meant all this? What meant that martial music, 
those dark columns, those hurrying horsemen, those hostile 
armies, those flaunting banners bearing different devices? 
What caused this mighty uprising of the nation? 

In this chapter and in the succeeding two, I shall attempt 
to point out some of the causes which culminated in the 
alarming condition of affairs that existed in June, 1861. 
In doing this perhaps it may appear that neither side was 
wholly to blame and neither wholly blameless. I shall 
begin with the movement known as Abolitionism. 

The anti-slavery men of the North were divided into two 
classes : The first was composed of out and out Abolition- 
ists, such as William Lloyd Garrison, who demanded the 
immediate and unconditional emancipation of slaves every- 
where. This party was always small, but it became much 
larger after the repeal of the Missouri Compromise. After 
that action by congress, it was merged and lost in the 
larger organization known as the Free-soil party, which 
finally assxmied the name of the Republican party. The 
Republican party did not demand emancipation, but in- 
sisted that slavery should be restricted, and everywhere 
and forever excluded from the territories of the United 
States and from all new states. 

The Abolition party was narrow, bitter and extreme in 
its opinions and demands. It conceived a morbid, a 
sickly sympathy for an abstract slave, and to liberate him 
from bondage became its life-long object. If it were neces- 
sary, the Abolitionist would tear up and destroy the very 
foundations of the government in order to accomplish this 
object. He at once saw that the constitution stood in his 

Abolitionism. 247 

way, and therefore he denounced it * 'as a covenant with 
hell.'' He saw that the national government, through and 
by its constitution, was sacredly pledged to the protection 
of slavery, wherever it existed in the states, and therefore 
he demanded and worked for the destruction and the 
overthrow of that constitution. The object and the 
motives of the '^Garrisonian Abolitionists" are thus de- 
scribed by Henry Wilson, late Vice-President of the United 
States :* 

'* Having adopted the doctrine of 'no union with slave- 
holders' as the fundamental idea, the comer-stone of their 
policy and plans, the Garrisonians of that period di- 
rected their teachings, their arguments and appeals to the 
establishment of the necessity and the inculcation of the 
duty of disunion. Believing, in the language of Edmund 
Quincy, the Union to be a 'confederacy of crime,' that the 
'experiment of a great nation with popular institutions 
had signally failed,' that the Republic was 'not a model, 
but a warning to the nations,' that 'the hopes of the yearn- 
ing ages had been mournfully defeated' through 'the dis- 
turbing elements of slavery ;' believing, too, that such had 
become the ascendency of the system that it compelled 
'the entire people to be slaveholders or slaves ;' believing, 
also, that the 'only exodus for the slave from his bondage, 
the only redemption of ourselves from our guilty partici- 
pation in it, lies over the ruin of the American state and 
the American church' — they proclaimed it to be their im- 
alterable purpose and determination to live and labor for 
a dissolution of the present Union by all lawful and just, 
though bloodless and pacific means, and for the formation 
of a new Republic that shall be such not only in name, but 
in full, living reality and truth." 

The Abolitionists, then, aimed at four things : 1st, to 
overthrow the Union and the constitution ; 2d, to destroy 
the "American church;" 3d, to abolish slavery; 4th, to 

* " Rifle and Fall of the Slave Power in America," by Henry Wilson, Vol. 
n, p. 107. 

248 East Tennessee and the CivU War. 

establish a new Republic. If we were not solemnly as- 
sured of these facts, in an elaborate history of those times, 
by an accredited leader of the anti-slavery party, who be- 
came eminent by holding high trusts in the council of the 
nation, it would be hard to believe that a respectable number 
of men could have been found capable of such supreme folly 
and of such boundless wickedness. Consider this matter 
a moment. The Southern states proposed, in 1861, simply 
to secede from the Union, leaving the constitution and the 
old government just as they were. They made no war 
upon *Hhe American church.'' But here all were to be 
pulled down, * 'through bloodless and pacific means," they 
say. How absurd I The scheme meant, or involved in its 
results, revolution, if it meant anything. It meant blood- 
shed and anarchy. It meant an intestine and internecine 
war, horrible to think of. 

It should be a source of extreme gratification to the 
people of this generation to know that the number of per- 
sons who entertained these revolutionary sentiments and 
purposes was very small, confined exclusively to the 
Abolitionists, and perhaps not embracing many of them. 

But it can not escape observation how the two antag- 
onistic sectional elements, the "Higher Law," party and 
the ** Secession party," constituting at that time a great 
minority of the people in each section, were working 
toward the same end — ^the destruction of the government — 
the one because slavery was protected by the constitution 
and the legislation under it, and the other in part because 
slavery was not sufficiently protected. With widely diflTer- 
ent motives, they moved along converging lines toward the 
accomplishment of the same great purpose— the perpetra- 
tion of the greatest folly of the ages. 

The teachings of the Abolitionists naturally and logically 
led to a disregard of the constitution. Therefore, we are 
not surprised that in May, 1854, there was an open at- 
tempt made in Boston to rescue a fugitive slave named 
Anthony Bums from the hands of the United States 

Abolitionism. 249 

marshal. Violence was used by an Abolition mob by 
breaking down the doors of the court-house where the 
slave was guarded, and one man, a deputy marshal, was 
killed and others injured. Resistance to the execution of 
the fugitive slave law and the rescue of the slave were 
defiantly advocated in two public meetings by Wendell 
Phillips, Theodore Parker, T. W. Higginson, Dr. S. G. 
Howe and many other prominent men.^ But the frantic 
eflFort of these men to overthrow the law and trample upon 
the constitution utterly failed. 

Here was the case of a fugitive slave who had been 
arrested by a United States marshal, under a warrant 
issued by a United States commissioner, appointed under 
an act of congress, which act was passed to carry into exe- 
cution a provision of the constitution. This constitution 
had been approved, accepted and ratified by the people of 
Massachusetts. And here was presented the spectacle of 
two public meetings, in the enlightened city of Boston, 
avowedly for the purpose of defeating this law, by the 
rescue of a fugitive, and the open attempt to execute this 
purpose by an assault on Charles Devens, the marshal, 
and his deputies.' And to give full significance to these 
extraordinary proceedings, it must be kept in mind that 
these things were not done by the ** toughs" from the 
slums of the city, but by its foremost citizens in culture, 
character and social position — ^lawyers, preachers, mer- 
chants and physicians, and among them, we are told, a 
** thoughtful student of Plato" from Concord. And quite 
as noticeable, there was not a protest in either of the meet- 
ings against these violent proceedings, not a voice raised 
in favor of the observance of the law and the preservation 
of the constitution — ^not one. And Mr. Henry Wilson, 

» Wilson's " Rise and FaU," etc., Vol. H, pp. 436-441. 

' It may be of interest to know that Charles Devens was afterwards the 
able attorney-general of President Hayes. When the Civil War broke oat, 
he entered the army, lost a leg in the battles of the Army of the Potomac, 
and by merit and gallantry rose to the rank of general. 

250 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

from whom the foregoing account is taken, who was for 
many years a senator in congress from Massachusetts, and 
for two years vice-president of the United States, narrates 
these things with the utmost coolness, without one word of 
dissent or disapproval and apparently with pride. 

And thus Massachusetts was manufacturing the ammu- 
nition for future use in secession guns which were finally 
aimed at the Union. And when seven years later, in the 
city of Charleston, Edmund Ruffin fired the first gun in the 
nation's terrible drama of blood, charged with this ammu- 
nition, Massachusetts helped to aim that gun and to fire that 
dreadful shot. 

Soon after these reprehensible meetings, there was or- 
ganized in Boston a secret society, called the ''Boston Anti-^ 
man-hunting League, '* with its grips and passwords, the 
purpose of which was **to protect and rescue fugitive 
slaves." It consisted, says Mr. Henry Wilson, of more 
than a hundred men, composed of lawyers, physicians, 
clergymen, literary men, merchants, men of ability, char- 
acter, social position and influence. 

When the legislatures of certain Northern States passed 
laws designed to obstruct the free execution of the Fugi- 
tive Slave Law, they were defeating a law of congress 
and defying the constitution. Perhaps they did not say in 
words, as South Carolina had done in 1832, in the case 
of nullification, the law is *'null, void and no law, not 
binding upon this state, its officers and citizens," but they 
did just what South Carolina attempted to do ; they nul* 
lified the law, and did all they could to defeat its opera- 
tion. This was nullification pure and simple. Every 
member of the legislatures of those states, and every 
judge, and every state officer, had sworn to support the 
Constitution of the United States and the laws made in 
pursuance thereof, which were (with the treaties) declared 
to be * 'the supreme law of the land, anything in the con- 
stitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstand- 

Abolitionism. 261 

ing." This is too explicit for any doubt or misunder- 

In colonial days, and in the earlier years of the Repub- 
lic, there was no serious difference in opinion between the 
people of the North and those of the South as to the in- 
stitution of slavery, Maryland, Virginia, North and 
South Carolina, had all protested against the introduction 
of so many slaves into their dominions. It is well known 
that the leading statesmen of Virginia, such as Washing- 
ton, Jefferson, Mason, Pendleton and Wythe, and some 
eminent men in North Carolina, wished to get rid of slavery. 
In the convention that framed the federal constitution, 
Virginia and the Middle States opposed the clause ex- 
tending the time to 1808 when the slave trade should 
cease, while most of the New England States united with 
the Carolinas and Gteorgia in adopting it. For forty years 
after the adoption of the constitution there was a stronger 
anti-slavery sentiment in Virginia, Tennessee and Ken- 
tucky, than there was in the free states. Even the im- 
mense stimulus given to the culture and production of 
cotton by Eli Whitney's great invention, the cotton-gin, 
did not arrest the emancipation movement in these states 
untU after 1834. Slavery was regarded in the early days 
of the Republic as both a moral and an economic evil, 
which ought to be removed as speedily as possible. In 
Tennessee, as is elsewhere more fully shown, there were 
many emancipation societies as early as 1815 and 1816. 
There were similar societies in Kentucky, Virginia and 
North Carolina. In the winter of 1831-'32, Jefferson Ran- 
dolph, a grandson of Thomas Jefferson, introduced a 
proposition into the legislature of Virginia, to inquire into 
the expediency of gradual emancipation in that state. This 
proposition was never pressed to a vote. The fact that 
it was dropped, is ascribed by George Ticknor Curtis to 
the Abolitionists.^ Mr. Curtis says : 

^ Quoted by Charlee M. Harvey in a letter to the St Louis " Qlobe Dem- 

252 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

**In the midst of this state of things, and before the next 
meeting of the legislature, intelligence came from the 
North of the formation of anti-slavery societies, their aim, 
spirit and temper. The aspect in which their proceedings 
presented themselves to the people of the South was most 
alarming. Strangers coming together in the free states to 
assail all slaveholders as sinners, and to demand instant 
abolition, aroused fears of the most dangerous conse- 
quences to the safety of Southern homes, and an intense 
indignation against such external interference with the 
domestic condition of the Southern States. A sudden revul- 
sion of public sentiment in Virginia was followed by a 
similar revulsion everywhere in the South, where an 
amelioration of the condition of the colored race was in 
consideration. This change of feeling led Southern states- 
men to seek new devices for strengthening the political 
power of their section in the Union." ^ 

The insurrection of Nat Turner in that state, soon after 
this time, no doubt helped greatly to increase this revulsion, 
and to add to the general alarm. 

This sudden outburst of Abolition feeling and excite- 
ment was perhaps largely due to the appearance in Boston 
of the ''Liberator," on January 1, 1831, edited by William 
Lloyd Garrison. In the first number, he said: **I shall 
strenuously contend for the immediate enfranchisement of 
our slave population. I will be as harsh as truth, as un- 
compromising as justice. ... I am in earnest I I 
will not equivocate I I will not excuse I I will not re- 
treat a single inch, and I will be heard. ' ' Soon afterwards, 
he said, in his paper: **I take it for granted that slavery 
is a crime, a damning crime ; therefore, my efforts shall 
be directed to the exposure of those who practice it." 

Garrison, however, it is but just to say, did not advo- 
cate the insurrection of the slaves, though his teachings 
naturally tended to this result. His labors, with other 

» Curtis' " Constitutional History of the United States," Vol. n., p. 264. 

Abolitionism. 253 

causes, resulted in the formation, in 1831, of the New 
England Anti-Slavery Society, and the New York and the 
American Anti-Slavery societies in 1833. During the next 
few years, local auxiliary societies sprang up in most of 
the Northern States. 

At a meeting of the National Society, held in New York 
in 1844, a resolution was adopted, declaring that, as the 
constitution sanctioned the rendition of the fugitive slave 
to his master, therefore, fidelity to freedom's cause required 
the dissolution of the Union, and Abolitionists were for- 
bidden to hold office under the constitution. What super- 
lative madness and folly I It is no wonder that the good 
men in the South who had been laboring to bring about 
gradual emancipation, ceased their work when they saw 
the bitterness and the purpose of the Abolitionists. Nor 
is it surprising that a revulsion not only in feeling, but in 
opinion, in reference to the morality of the institution of 
slavery, rapidly followed. Not to have resented this at- 
tempt to interfere with a domestic institution would have 
been more than human. By a natural law, a similar bit- 
terness was engendered in the South. And thus, for 
twenty years, the extremists of each section multiplied 
and grew and strengthened, each by the nourishment af- 
forded by the other. If either could have been kept silent 
for four years, the other would have died of inanition. 
Mr. Benton once said that ''the Abolitionists and the South- 
em extremists were as necessary to each other as were 
the two blades of a scissors the one to the other.'' 

The extreme utterances of the Abolitionists were circu- 
lated in the South, while those of extreme men in the South 
were circulated in the North — all to inflame the minds of 
the people. 

Gteorge Ticknor Curtis, a. great lawyer and an acute 
thinker, expressed the opinion, in his ''Constitutional His- 
tory of the United States," that there were causes at work 
when the agitation of slavery commenced, which, in all 
probability, would have brought African slavery to an end. 

254 EcLst Tennessee and the Civil War, 

without any political or social conyulsion, if it had been 
left to the operation of these causes, which tended to its 
peaceful removal. He thinks it could not have lasted un- 
changed so long as 1866, even if there had been no civil 
war, and no forcible emancipation. 

With one who has lived all his life in the midst of 
slavery, who knew something of Southern thought and 
feeling, and who was himself a slave owner, it is difficult 
to concur in this opinion. It is easy to believe that, under 
the influence of the moral causes that were at work in the 
South, especially in Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky, 
during the first thirty years of this century, and if there 
had been no irritating anti-slavery movement in the free 
states, the gradual emancipation of slaves might have gone 
on from generation to generation, until slavery would have 
finally disappeared. But it is visionary to suppose that 
this could have occurred by the year 1865. It might have 
taken one hundred years, but, most probably, a much 
longer period. For a moment, consider the facts. Slaves 
were a luxury, or were supposed to be, to those who owned 
them, with which they were slow to part. Their owner- 
ship constituted a badge of honor and was a passport to 
society. The man or the woman who owned a hundred 
slaves was everywhere an honored person. The owners of 
great plantations, stocked with slaves, were the most in- 
fluential men in the state. They everywhere received 
homage. They were untitled nobility. The merchant 
might be as wealthy, but he ranked below the * 'great 
planter." The former must toil for his money, the planter 
* 'toiled not." Others toiled for him. From the shade of 
his cool, broad veranda, he could look out upon perhaps a 
hundred slaves and a hundred mules, toiling in his ex- 
tended fields in the hot summer sun. And, when the time 
for the in-gathering and the disposition of the crop came, 
each hand and mule yielded a large and certain sum in 
cash, leaving a heavy profit after paying all expenses. 
And, as the lordly planter gazed on his baronial posses- 

Abolitionism. 255 

sions, hi8 heart kindled with pride. A call, or a whistle, 
from him, and a troop of servants appeared quick to do 
his will. Horses and carriages, and guns and hounds 
awaited his command. What ! give up this ease, luxury, 
affluence and social position in deference to the moral sen- 
timent of the North? The hxmian heart said no. Philan- 
thropists may rail against the sinfulness and the horrors 
of slavery as they will, but, barring the cruelties and in- 
justice of the institution, life, as a whole, on these great 
plantations where there was refinement, was an ideal one 
that sinful man delighted in. Men were most slow to give 
up an institution that ministered so largely and constantly 
to their comfort and their pleasure, and which at the same 
time gave them position and importance. No occupation in 
all the land so certainly led to wealth as that of planting with 
slave labor. But this was not all. Fully half of the cap- 
ital of the South, perhaps a much larger part, was invested 
in slaves. At the opening of the late Civil War, this 
property was estimated at two thousand millions of dol- 
lars. Emancipation would have wiped that vast sum out 
of existence. In this way the source of nearly half the 
taxes of the states would have been taken away. Both 
the states and the slave owners would have been impov- 

**With the labor of the slaves,'* says Mr. Blaine, **they 
could produce three hundred millions a year in excess of 
the food required for the population. Three hundred 
million a year represented a rumunerative interest on a 
capital of five thousand millions of dollars.'' * 

**To abandon the institution was to sacrifice four thou- 
sand millions of property, specially protected by law. It 
was for the existing generations of the governing class in 
the South to vote themselves into bankruptcy and penury. 
Far beyond this, it was in their judgment to blight their 

» " Twenty Years of Congress," Vol. I, p. 174. 

256 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

land with ignorance and indolence, to be followed by crime 
and anarchy. ' ' ^ 

With such serious results following emancipation, es- 
pecially universal and immediate, slaveholders would have 
been very slow to yield their assent to it. Universal 
emancipation would not have taken place, indeed could 
not have taken place, without wide-spread ruin. In 1834, 
in the Constitutional Convention of Tennessee, the moral 
argument against slavery, urged so earnestly by good men 
of the state even at that late day, was pressed with great 
force in favor of gradual emancipation, to be completed in 
the year 1865. But the slaveholders, frankly admitting, in 
an explanation and an apology for their course, written 
with great ability, that slavery was a deplorable evil to 
be gotten rid of as soon as possible, were unable to see 
their way to emancipation at that time, and therefore it 
was postponed. But the proposition notwithstanding this 
received twenty votes out of thirty-eight. In truth, it 
could scarcely be expected that the people of a state 
would reduce themselves, by an act of noble sacrifice, 
from a condition of independence and affluence, to one 
of absolute poverty, at the same time making the state 

There was still another difficulty in the way of eman* 
cipation. In some of the slave states the slaves were 
more numerous than the whites, and in all of them, ex- 
cepting Delaware, they formed a large element in the 
population. What was to be done with these slaves when 
emancipated? Were they to be turned loose among the 
white population, ignorant, property-less and thriftless? 
To do this, it was believed, would expose society to the 
danger of the greatest social evils. No community would 
willingly incur such a dangerous risk. To send the slaves 
to Liberia was beyond the ability of the state and that of 
their late owners. Many of the free states while clamor- 

» " Twenty Years of CongresB," Vol. I, p. 121. 

Abolitionism. 257 

ing for emancipation and the equality of men before the 
law had closed their doors against the entrance of free 
negroes. Everywhere, both in the free and in the slave 
states, at that day, as in this, there was a deep-seated 
prejudice against them. Slave owners regarded them with 
suspicion. They were supposed to tamper with and cor- 
rupt the slaves. They were at all times an evil example, 
leading lives of idleness and generally of dishonesty. 
Finally many of the states forbade the emancipation of 
slaves, except upon the condition that their masters should 
provide the means of sending them to Liberia, or beyond 
the limits of the state where they were emancipated. 
Here was an almost insuperable obstacle in the way of 

These were some of the difficulties in the way of the 
consummation of an object very near the heart of many 
slave owners at an early day, when they were left free, 
without any outside interference, to consider this question 
as one alone rightfully concerning themselves. But at a 
later day when the Abolitionists began to denounce slavery 
as a ''damning crime,'' and slaveholders as sinners above 
all men, when they began to preach a crusade of imme- 
diate emancipation, an absolute revulsion of feeling took 
place. After that time no man dared to hazard his repu- 
tation, or his life, by the advocacy of a measure which a 
few years previously had received the approval of the best 
men in the South. The door to discussion even was closed. 
To be suspected of abolition views fastened a mark of in- 
famy on a man, as indelible as the famous '' Scarlet Let- 
ter." Tens of thousands of persons who had favored 
emancipation at an early day, became extreme pro-slavery 

^ Frederick A. Roes, doctor of diyinity, of Kingsport, East Tennessee, 
was a striking illnstration of the truth of this statement. He was a Presby- 
terian minister of great brilliancy and learning. He owned a good many 
slaves, and back about 1890, under the then prevailing feeling in East Ten- 


258 East Tennessee and the CivU War, 

So, in view of all these facts, it is impossible to see how 
the peaceful end of slavery could have come, in 1865 or at 
any early period, even if the Abolitionists had not by their 
violence turned backward the current in its favor. This 
is especially true as to what are termed the Cotton States ; 
but not so clearly so as to the border slave states. It is 
reasonably clear to my mind that but for the amazing 
madness and folly of secession, nothing but some great 
convulsion, such as that of the late civil war, could have 
put an end to it short of one or two hundred years. 

But what man seemed unable to do was quickly done 
by Providence, through the agency of the folly and the 
blindness of violent men, both North and South. But 
for the marvelous and unexpected manner in which slavery 
was finally destroyed, I see no reason why it might not 
have existed in the South for hundreds of years. All will 
agree that immediate voluntary emancipation was impos- 
sible. Such a thing had nowhere taken place in any of 
our states. It is believed that gradual emancipation had 
always resulted in the shifting in advance of many, per- 
haps of most, of the slaves to other states, where no such 
movement was in contemplation, and that only a compara- 
tively few slaves acquired their freedom in that way. 
With a vast expanse of new slave territory, like Mexico, 
into which large numbers of slaves might have been 
drawn, the border slave states might ultimately have emp- 
tied their slaves, under the operation and the expectation 
of gradual emancipation. 

The bitter condemnation of slavery in the North pro- 
duced its natural effect in the South. When the Southern 
people found themselves pilloried before the world for the 
crime of slavery, they naturally began to defend that insti- 

nessee, especially among the Covenanter Presbyterians, in favor of eman- 
cipation, he set these all free. Time wore on, the abolition crusade waa 
commenced, and he changed his views. He became a secessionist, and 
in his later days wrote a book maintaining that slavery was of divine- 

Abolitionism. 259 

tution. That which they once regarded as a moral evil, 
inherited from their ancestors, and from which they saw 
no means of escape without wide-spread ruin and bank- 
ruptcy, soon appeared to them as a scriptural institution, 
sanctioned by the practice of all ages, and notably so in 
Apostolic times. Thus assailed, they turned upon the 
Abolitionists and retorted : **What right have you to lect- 
ure us for the sin of slavery? Did not your fathers follow 
this practice for one hundred and fifty years, and give it 
up only when it became plainly manifest that it was not 
profitable? Did they not reduce to slavery and sell into 
bondage even the poor Indians?* Were not some of the 
fortunes of yourselves, and many more of your ancestors', 
made in the slave trade, or by the manufacture of rum to 
be used in that trade? And when you determined to 
emancipate your slaves, did you not sell many of them to 
the South, and thus continue in bondage the poor beings 
who were promised freedom?'* 

These and similar accusations were constantly hurled 
back at the North. Congress became the high arena for 
the utterance of bitter reproaches and denunciations, and 
for the manufacture of sectional strife and animosity. 
The two sections became as a seething, boiling, overflow- 
ing caldron. In a speech delivered in the senate, March 
4, 1858, Senator James H. Hammond, of South Carolina^ 
thus reproached the North : 

*'In all social systems there must be a class to do the 
menial duties, to perform the drudgery of life. 
It constitutes the very mudsill of society and of political 
government, and you might as well attempt to build a 
house in the air as to build either the one or the other ex- 
cept on this mudsill. Fortunately for the South, she 
found a race adapted to that purpose to her hand. . • . 
We use them for our purpose and call them slaves. . . . 

* Some one has said that when the Puritans landed in Massachusetts, 
** they first fell on their knees, then they fell on the ahorigines." 

260 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

''The Senator from New York said yesterday that the 
whole world had abolished slavery. Aye, the name, but 
not the thing ; all the powers of the earth can not abolish 
that. God only can do it when he repeals the fiat, *the 
poor ye always have with you;' for the man who lives 
by daily labor, and scarcely lives at that, and who has to 
put out his labor in the market and take the best he can 
get for it — ^in short, your whole class of manual laborers 
and 'operatives,' as you call them, are essentially slaves. 
The diflference between us is, that our slaves are hired for 
life and well compensated ; there is no starvation, no beg- 
ging, no want of employment among our people, and not 
too much employment, either. Yours are hired by the 
day, not cared for, and scantily compensated. . . ." 

Mr. Calhoun, in one of his published letters, uttered 
opinions somewhat similar to those expressed by Senator 

It must be candidly confessed that the people of the 
South, while far from being free from blame themselves, 
had great causes of complaint against a part of the people 
of the North prior to 1861. The fugitive slave law was 
not executed in the free states with that fidelity which 
should have marked the course of the people of sister 
states. Ten states, namely, Massachusetts, Vermont, Con- 
necticut, Khode Island, Maine, Pennsylvania, Michigan, 
Ohio, Wisconsin and Kansas, had passed laws obstructing 
the operation of that law and designed to nullify it. A 
portion of the Northern people, perhaps only a small por- 
tion, were at all times ready, by force and violence, to re- 
sist its execution. How far they were excusable in a court 
of conscience, if at all, for failing or refusing their aid in 
enforcing the law when demanded, on account of tender 
scruples, is left for hair-splitting casuists to determine. 
But when a sovereignty speaks through its constitution 
and law-making power, declaring **thus saith the law," it 
addresses and commands the obedience of every human 
being within its dominions. In governmental affairs, the 

Abolitionism. 261 

doctrine of a law higher than the constitution is simply 
treasonable. Those who resisted the execution of the fugi- 
tive slave law on the plea of a * 'higher law" were guilty 
of the highest crime known to our laws. That law was 
framed under an express provision of the constitution, and 
was binding on every citizen of the Republic. When men, 
therefore, as individuals, or as legislators, or in mobs, re- 
sisted its enforcement, they resisted the government. The 
acts of the legislature, in so far as they resisted or impeded 
the execution of that law, were acts of nullification. 
Every attempt on the part of Northern men, by incendiary 
speeches or publications, to excite the slaves of the South 
to run away, or to insurrection, was an act, however in- 
tended, in defiance of the constitution. The right of free 
speech in the discussion of slavery, the right of earnest 
opposition to it, even the right to demand that it be peace- 
fully extinguished, is not denied. Argument and reason 
are vital forces in a free government. But the matters to 
which I refer went far beyond the use of reason and argu- 

John Brown, when he attacked Harper's Ferry, became 
a daring violator of law, and deserved the fate he invoked 
on himself. Perhaps his execution was a mistake. If he 
had been incarcerated for life as a demented fanatic, or 
confined as a lunatic, the sympathy of the world would 
not have been awakened in his behalf as it was. He 
would have become no martyr, but would have been con- 
sidered simply as an infatuated, foolish man. As it was, 
his death contributed in a marvelous manner, and in a way 
he dreamed not of, to accomplish the result his morbid 
mind had been brooding over for many years. His death 
was worth to his cause thousands of lives like his own. 
When his bold and startling deed was first announced to 
the world, the news sent a shudder of horror through the 
minds of a majority of the people of the North. They 
saw in it the fearful foreboding of coming evil. But his 
undaunted courage, his splendid heroism during his trial, 

262 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

his fortitude under his suflferings, his transcendent air of 
consciousness that he was right, his scornful refusal to 
plead mental aberration or supplicate for mercy, coupled 
with the wide-spread excitement in the public mind, made 
his tragic death thrillingly sublime. The whole land 
quivered with gravest apprehension. The indignation ex- 
cited at first by his act of daring lawlessness, that had 
prompted him to give his life for a race not his own, was 
turned into sympathy. His name was at once enrolled 
(by those who believed as he did) among the canonized 
martyrs. It became the theme of patriotic songs and the 
inspiration of armies going into battle. His deeds were 
chanted by millions of tongues. Thus, though dead, **his 
soul went marching on." His conduct was not an erratic 
display of chivalry, not wild romance, not vain ambition 
to win the world's applause. It was an impelling sense, 
an earnest, though misguided, conviction of duty — ^the 
true martyr-spirit. 

But no man had either the moral or the legal right to 
take from another his slaves, any more than his horses 
or his mules, much less stir them up to insurrection. 
Both acts were violations of law. By the supreme law of 
the land, slaves were property, and it was a crime to de- 
prive the owner of this property. Abolitionists had no 
greater right to take slaves from a Southern owner, than 
the latter had to seize the arms, and forts and ships of the 
government. Neither the government, by the exercise of 
legislative authority, nor the executive thereof, nor the 
people as individuals, or in communities, or societies, nor 
any power on earth, had the right, in time of peace, to in- 
terfere with or take away the slaves of the South against 
the consent of the owners. The ancestors of the Northern 
people had in many cases sold their slaves in the South. 
By a solemn compact in the constitution, they had guaran- 
teed peaceable possession and ownership of them. Any 
attempt, therefore, in time of peace, to interfere with this 
property where it rightfully existed, except by the lawful 

Abolitionism. 263 

use of argument and persuasion, was a crime against the 
law of the land, and an attempt to overthrow the constitu- 
tion, deserving of prompt punishment. 

Errors and falsehoods are often employed in the cause 
of humanity, as well as in defense of evil and oppression. 
Many a man has served the cause of the evil one when he 
thought he was serving Gtod. Good motives will not 
sanctify crime. Doubtless John Brown had an approving 
conscience when he carried fire and sword into the state 
of Virginia. If the people of Prance or England had at 
any time forcibly and violently attempted to interfere with 
or to destroy the institution of slavery in Virginia, there 
was scarcely an Abolitionist in the North who would not 
have resented the interference, and been ready to take up 
arms in resistance. And yet these were foreigners, and 
were under no obligation to abstain from such an act, ex- 
cept comity and the law of nations. No such solemn obli- 
gation of obedience to law and the constitution rested on 
them as bound the people of the free states. Every citizen 
of the United States was under an implied oath to support 
the constitution of the country, and the laws made in pur- 
suance thereof. The constitution recognized the legality 
of slavery in certain states of the Union, and every citizen 
was under the same oath to do likewise. It was therefore a 
much higher crime in one of our own citizens forcibly and il- 
legally to attempt to destroy slavery than it would have 
been for the citizens of England or France. Every citizen 
undeniably had the right to argue against that institution, 
to condemn it as a wrong, to protest against its extension, 
and to insist that it should cease. But the moment he 
went beyond argument and an appeal to conscience and 
reason, and advocated or resorted to force for its extinction, 
he committed a crime against the constitution and the 
laws of the land, no matter what his motive may have 
been. No moral considerations could absolve him from 
his solemn obligations to the constitution. If it was his 
duty to aid in returning slaves to their owners, certainly 

264 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

he had no right to aid in nullifying the law and defeating 
its execution. This is the law, as well as the ethics of this 
whole question. To satisfy the consciences of men, 
casuists could gloss over their conduct by specious argu- 
ments; and by denouncing ''the constitution as a league 
with hell and an agreement with death," they might ap- 
pease them ; but this very line of argument only proved 
those who used it to be incendiaries and entirely outside 
of the law. 

Surely there was the same moral, as well as legal 
obligation binding alike on the Abolitionist, the nullifier 
and the secessionist, to obey the constitution and the law. 
If not, then indeed, was our government a rope of sand. 
In illustration of this point, I quote from an opinion of the 
Supreme Court of the United States. The opinion was 
in reference to the duties of citizens toward foreign 
nations, but certainly no one will contend that they are 
under less solemn obligations to their fellow-citizens of the 
other states, to observe the laws made for the protection of 
their property. This is especially true as to their supreme 
obligation to obey and defend the constitution of the United 
States : 

'*He is bound to be at war," says the court, "with the 
nation against which the war-making power has declared 
war, and equally bound to commit no act of hostility 
against a nation with which the government is in amity 
and friendship. 

* * The principle is universally acknowledged by the laws 
of nations. It lies at the foundation of all governments, 
as else there could be no social order or peaceful relations 
between the citizens of the United States. For, as the 
sovereignty resides in the people, every citizen is a portion 
of it, and is, himself, personally bound by the laws which 
the representatives of the sovereignty may pass, or the 
treaties into which they may enter within the scope of 
their delegated authority. And, when that authority has 
plighted its faith to another nation, that there shall be 

Abolitionism. 265 

peace and friendship between the citizens of the two coun- 
tries, every citizen of the United States is equally and per- 
sonally pledged. The compact is made by the department 
of the government upon which he, himself, has agreed to 
confer the power. It is his own personal compact as a 
portion of the sovereignty in whose behalf it is made." 

In further elucidation of these points, I quote somewhat 
at length from one of the speeches of Mr. Webster, bear- 
ing directly on them. After he had voted as senator for 
the Fugitive Slave Law and for the other compromise 
measures of 1850, he was abused with a fury and hounded 
with a ferocity by the Abolitionists of the North, and es- 
pecially by those of his own Massachusetts, such as seldom 
falls to the lot of a public man. In a speech delivered in 
Albany, New York, May 28, 1851, he discussed the Fugi- 
tive Slave Law in full, without any reference to himself. 
Among other things, he said : 

''There had been an ancient practice" (among the colo- 
nies), *'a practice a century old, for aught I know, accord- 
ing to which fugitives from service, whether apprentices 
of the North or slaves of the South, should be restored. 
Massachusetts had restored fugitive slaves to Virginia long 
before the adoption of the constitution, and it is well 
known that in other states in which slavery did or did not 
exist they were restored, also, on proper application. And 
it was held that any man could pursue his slave and take 
him wherever he could find him. Under this state of 
things, it was expressly stipulated, in the plainest lan- 
guage, and there it stands — sophistry can not gloss it, it 
can not be erased from the page of the constitution, there 
it stands — ^that persons held to service or labor in one state, 
under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall not, 
in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be dis- 
charged from service and labor, but shall be delivered up 
upon claim of the party to whom such service or labor 
shall be due. This was adopted without dissent ; it was 
nowhere objected to, North or South, but considered as a 

266 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

matter of absolute right and justice to the Southern States, 
and concurred in everywhere by every state that adopted 
the constitution ; and we look in vain for any opposition 
to it from Massachusetts to Georgia. 

**Such a law" (a fugitive slave law in accordance with 
the constitution) **was prepared and passed in Gteneral 
Washington's time ; ... was passed without a di- 
vision in the senate, and with but seven votes against it 
in the house. It went into operation, and for a time it 
satisfied the just rights and expectations of everybody. 
That law provided that its enactments should be carried 
into effect mainly by state magistrates, justices of the 
peace, judges of state courts, sheriffs and other organs of 
state authority. So things went on without any loud com- 
plaint from any quarter, until some fifteen years ago, when 
some of the states, the free states, thought it proper to 
pass laws prohibiting their own magistrates and officers 
from executing this law of congress, under heavy penal- 
ties, and refusing to the United States authorities the use 
of their prisons for the detention of persons arrested as 
fugitive slaves. That is to say, these states passed acts 
defeating the law of congress, as far as it was in their 
power to defeat it. Those of them to which I refer, not 
all, nullified the law of 1793 entirely. They said, in ef- 
fect : 'We will not execute it. No runaway slave shall 
be restored.' Thus the law became a dead letter, an en- 
tire dead letter. But here was the constitutional compact, 
nevertheless, still binding; here was the stipulation, as 
solemn as words could form it, and which every member 
of congress, every officer of the general government, every 
officer of the state governments, from governor down to 
constables, is sworn to support. Well, under this state of 
things, in 1850, I was of the opinion that common justice 
and good faith called upon us to make a law — fair, reason- 
able, equitable and just — that should be calculated to 
carry this constitutional provision into effect, and give the 
Southern States what they were entitled to, and what was 

AbolUioniam. 267 

intended originally they should receive ; that is, fair, right 
and reasonable means to recover their fugitives from serv- 
ice, from the states into which they fled. . . . 

*'Now, let me say that this law" (that of 1850) **ha8 
been discussed, considered and adjudged in a great many of 
the tribunals of the country. It has been the subject of 
discussion before the judges of the Supreme Court of the 
United Statec ; the subject of discussion before courts the 
most respectable in the states. Everywhere, on all occa- 
sions, and by all judges, it has been held to be, and pro- 
nounced to be, a constitutional law. • • • All ju- 
dicial opinions are in favor of the law. . . . You 
cannot find a man in the profession, in New York, whose 
income reaches thirty pounds a year, who will stake his 
professional reputation in an opinion against it. If he 
does, his reputation is not worth the thirty pounds. And 
yet this law is opposed, violently opposed, not by bringing 
this question into court; those lovers of human liberty, 
these friends of the slave, the fugitive slave, do not put 
their hands in their pockets and draw funds to conduct 
lawsuits and try the question ; they are not much in that 
habit. That is not the way they show their devotion to 
liberty of any kind ; they resolve that the law is oppressive, 
unjust and should not be executed at any rate or under 
any circumstances. It has been said in the states of New 
York, Massachusetts and Ohio, over and over again, that 
the law shall not be executed. That was the language of 
conventions in Worcester, Massachusetts; in Syracuse, 
New York, and elsewhere. And for this they pledged 
their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. Now, 
gentlemen, these proceedings, I say it upon my profes- 
sional reputation, are distinctly treasonable. Resolutions 
passed in Ohio, certain resolutions in New York and in con- 
ventions held in Boston, are distinctly treasonable. And 
the act of taking away Shadrack from the public author- 
ities in Boston, and sending him off, was an act of clear 
treason. I speak this in the hearing of men who are law- 

268 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

yers ; I speak it out to the country ; I say it everywhere 
on my professional reputation. It was treason and noth- 
ing less ; that is to say, if men get together and combine, 
and resolve that they will oppose a law of the govern- 
ment, not in any one case, but in all cases ; if they resolve 
to resist the law, whoever may be attempted to be made 
the subject of it, and carry that purpose into effect, by re- 
sisting the application of the law in any one case, either 
by force of arms, or force of numbers, that, sir, is treason." 

Mr. Webster then went on to compare the Abolitionists 
of his day to the '*race of saints," who called themselves 
* 'Fifth Monarchy Men" in Cromwell's time, of whom he 
said: **A happy, self-pleased, glorious people they were ^ 
for they had practiced so many virtues, they were so en- 
lightened, so perfect, that they got to be in the language 
of that day *above ordinances.' That is the *higher 
law* of this day exactly. They were above ordinances, 
walked about prim and spruce, self-satisfied, thankful to 
Grod that they were not as other men, but had attained so 
far to salvation as to be above all necessity of restraint 
and control, civil or religious." * 

Grim old Cromwell said these men deserved the atten- 
tion of the magistrates. 

In another speech (one at Buffalo), Mr. Webster, re- 
ferring to resolutions of Abolition conventions, said, with 
terrible sarcasm: ''Their sacred honor I They pledge 
their sacred honor to violate the constitution! They 
pledge their sacred honor to commit treason against the 
laws of the country I ' ' 

Thus spoke this Northern man ; this great, this wonder- 
ful man, this Massachusetts man, of the fanatical Aboli- 
tionists of his day. 

I give two extracts from speeches of leading Abolition- 
ists boldly proclaiming the doctrine of a law higher than 

» " Works of Daniel Webster," Vol. H, p. 674. 

Abolitionism, 269 

the constitution. Wendell Phillips, said, in 1846, in a 
speech in Boston : 

**Law or no law, constitution or no constitution, hu- 
manity shall be paramount. I would send out a voice from 
Faneuil Hall that shall reach each hovel in South Carolina, 
and say to the slaves : Come here, and find an asylum of 
freedom here, where no talon of the national eagle shall 
ever snatch you away. ' ' ^ 

Theodore Parker said: '*When the laws of Massachu- 
setts, or the laws of the Union, conflict with the laws of 
God, I would keep God's law in preference, though the 
heavens should fall." 

Now, it was the constant agitation of the slavery ques- 
tion by a part of the Northern people — the unceasing de- 
nunciation of an institution exclusively belonging to sister 
states, and in no sense their own — ^and the proclamation 
of the ''Higher Law," much more than the nullification of 
the Fugitive Slave Law, that aroused such intense bitter- 
ness in the South. Mr. Stephens, who was perhaps one of 
the greatest and at the same time the most erratic of recent 
Southern statesmen, in his letter to Mr. Lincoln of Decem- 
ber 80, 1860, based his complaint against the North almost 
entirely on this point. He said : 

''I will also add that in my judgment the people of the 
South do not entertain any fears that a Republican ad- 
ministration, or at least the one about to be inaugurated, 
would attempt to interfere directly or immediately with 
slavery in the states. Their apprehension and disquietude 
do not spring from that source. They do not rise from 
the known anti-slavery sentiments of the president-elect. 
Washington, Jefferson and other presidents are generally 
admitted to have been anti-slavery in sentiment. But in 
those days anti-slavery did not enter as an element into 
party organizations. But now the subject which is con- 
fessedly on all sides outside of the constitutional action of 

» Wilson's " Rifle," etc., Vol. U, p. 66. 

270 Edst Tennessee and the Civil War. 

the goyernment, so far as the states are concerned, is made 
the central idea in the platform of principles announced 
by the triumphant party. The leading object seems to be 
simply, and wantonly, if you please, to put the institutiona 
of nearly half the states under the ban of public opinion 
and national condemnation. This, upon general principles 
is quite enough of itself to arouse a spirit not only of gen- 
eral indignation, but of revolt on the part of the proscribed. 
We, of the South, do think that African slavery as it ex- 
ists with us, is both morally and politically right. This 
opinion is founded on the inferiority of the black race: 
you, however, and perhaps a majority of the North, think 
it wrong. Admit the difference of opinion. The same 
difference of opinion existed to a more general extent 
amongst those who formed the constitution when it was- 
made and adopted. The changes were mainly on our side. 
As parties were not formed on this difference of opinion, 
then, why should they be now? . . , When parties or 
combinations of men, therefore, so form themselves, must 
it not be assumed, to arise not from reason or any sense of 
justice, but from fanaticism? The motive can spring from 
no other source, and when men come under the influence 
of fanaticism, there is no telling where their impulses and 
passions may drive them. That is what creates our dis- 
content and apprehension. ..." 

The true danger of the slaveholding states was perhaps 
never so truly and clearly stated as in these few sentences. 
Slavery was being undermined by the "ban of public 
opinion and national condemnation," and not by unfriendly 
legislation. That was what threatened its extinction, and 
so exasperated the slaveholders and justly too. Slavery 
was protected by the constitution in certain states. Neither 
Congress, nor any other power, except the people of those 
states, had the right, and the wildest fanatic did not claim 
such right, to interfere with it where it existed. And yet 
these Abolitionists went on, year after year, by the most 
violent utterances, inflaming the public mind against an 

Abolitionuhn. 271 

institution of sister states, and preaching a wild cnisade of 
abolition. They could only have expected and designed to 
incite a general insurrection among the slaves, or an armed 
uprising of the people of the free states for its destruction, 
or to so weaken it as to render it useless. In any case 
their conduct was highly culpable and often criminal. 

The spirit of the Abolitionists was strikingly manifested 
by their treatment of the venerable Daniel Webster in his 
old age. In order to save the Union and avert civil war, 
in 1850, as we have just seen, he patriotically voted for the 
Fugitive Slave Law and all the other compromise meas- 
ures of that period. For these he was persecuted to 
his grave. Neither his great services, nor his marvelous 
ability, nor the splendid luster he had shed on Massachu^ 
setts, were sufficient to shield him from the storm of 
obloquy heaped upon him by these ''insane men,'' as he 
styled them in one of his speeches. Even the gentle 
Quaker poet, Whittier, made him the subject of a malig- 
nant satire.^ 

I The poem Is entitled " Ichabod." I quote aome stansas to show its 

So fallen I So lost! the light withdrawn 

Which once he wore I 
The glory from his gray hairs gone 

Foreyermore ! 

Scorn ! would the angels langh to mark 

A bright aool driven, 
Fiend-goaded, down the endless dark, 

From hope and heaven 7 

Let not the land, once prond of him. 

Insult him now ; 
Nor brand with deeper shame his dim, 

Dishonored brow. 

All else Is gone ; from those great eyes 

The soul has fled. 
When faith is lost, when honor dies, 

The man is dead ! 

272 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

What must have been the spirit of these Abolitionists, 
when it could fill the heart of so kind, so loving a man as 
Whittier with such rancor? 

Those men in the North who denounced the constitution 
were guilty of a crime, no matter what their motives may 
have been. In so doing, they were severing the bonds of 
the Union and undermining its very foundations. They 
were helping to destroy all reverence for the sacred instru- 
ment on which the compact of union depended. When 
the active agitation for the abolition of slavery was com- 
menced, there was comparative peace in all sections of the 
country. At that very time good men, both North and 
South, but especially in the slave states, were engaged in a 
combined movement to get rid of slavery in a constitutional 
way. This peaceful movement was arrested by the Aboli- 
tion agitation. 

As the agitation went on and increased, the excitement 
in both sections rose higher and higher and became more 
and more intemperate. It continued to grow in intensity 
until the whole country felt it in every fiber. 

But I protest that this agitation of slavery, criminal as 
it was in many of its phases, constituted no justification, 
though it was in part the cause of secession. This was no 
remedy, as some of us insisted at the time, and as the re- 
sult proved, for the wrongs complained of by the South. 
This was especially true in view of the fact that the secur- 
ity of slavery where it then existed was in no danger in 
1861. The triumphant party which had succeeded to the 
control of the government was proposing, in the most sol- 
Then pay the reverence of old days 

To his dead fame ; 
Walk backward, with averted gaze, 
And hide the shame I 

Elizabeth Stuart Phelps is anthority for the statement that Whittier, dor^ 
ing the last years of his life, " lamented, if he did not repent, that poem." 
" I am afraid, I was too severe," he woald say (to her); " Do thee think I 
was ? "— "McClure's Magazine " for July, 1806, p. 118. 

Abolitionism. 273 

emn form, at the time secession was taking place, to guar- 
antee by a new article in the constitution its perpetual ex- 
istence. But the dominating ambition of a few men in the 
seceding states for a separate government, resting on slav- 
ery, and their intense dislike of the people of the North, 
would, in their haughty confidence of success, listen to no 
terms and to no reason. 

So, in considering the causes that led up to the war, a 
portion of the people of both sections, according to my 
view, were to blame. But small as the Abolition party 
was, its utterances were so violent and so exasperating that 
they kept the South in a constant ferment of excitement, 
and finally furnished the excuse and the rallying cry for the 
fatal movement for a separate government. 

Is it not time that the people of the North, as well as the 
people of the South, were learning to look calmly and dis- 
passionately at some of the old war questions? We are 
getting far enough away from the excitement caused by 
those great events to begin to be honest in their considera- 
tion. "We cannot deceive posterity, nor the keen eyes of 
impartial history. Almost certainly, posterity, on a calm 
review of these questions, may be as much amazed at the 
narrow prejudice and blind fury of the Abolitionists proper, 
in reference to the destruction of an institution which did 
not directly affect their own consciences, however much 
their ancestors may have been involved in fastening it upon 
the country, as they may be at the madness and stupendous 
folly of Southern men in trying to destroy the old govern- 
ment and establish a new one, the ''comer-stone of which 
was to be slavery.** The North may apotheosize those 
who fell in this cause as martyrs, and the South may con- 
secrate the memory of its heroes in poetry and song, but 
perchance posterity, with cold and stern impartiality, may 
reverse the judgment of this generation as to both. 

I most cheerfully bear testimony to the worth and purity 

of life of such leaders as William Lloyd Garrison, John G. 

Whittier, Gerrit Smith, John Rankin and Benjamin Lundy, 

274 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

and other Abolitionists. They were potent agents in the 
work of destroying slavery in the South. Indeed, but for 
them, it would probably have continued on indefinitely 
longer. But they just as certainly helped to bring on the 
great Civil War of 1861. How far they are, in part, 
guilty of the blood of the more than a half-million of men 
who fell in that great conflict, or whether entirely guiltless, 
can be known only by the Almighty. As time separates us 
further and further from the excitements and bitter pas- 
sions of that eventful period, and when calmness and a 
just equipoise of mind shall once more be restored (if they 
are not now) , I believe that these Abolitionists will rightly 
be held responsible for helping to produce a state of bitter 
antagonism between the two sections, which finally plunged 
the country into civil war. 

The result — the end sought and gained — ^must not be 
allowed to blind our judgment. Neither side saw, nor 
could see that, even if it could justify the means. Men 
are to be judged by the motives and events present to 
them, and not by the course of subsequent history. Only 
in this way can credit or censure be given to those who 
shaped our history in critical times. 

Secession. 276 



The right of revolntioii admitted— The right of BecesBion by the states de- 
nied by a majority of best statesmen— Robert R Lee's opinion— Nalli- 
fication in resolutions of 1798— Mr. Jefferson the author— Nullification 
in South Carolina— Was the parent of secession- Attributes of sover- 
eignty enumerated— Controversy between the two sections as to 
slavery reviewed at length — Abolition petitions— Annexation of Texas 
—Acquisition of territory by the Mexican War— Compromise measures 
of 1850— Repeal of Missouri Compromise— It arouses the North— Ob- 
ject and hope of Southern statesmen— Extension of slavery into Kan- 
sas, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, Arizona— Fight in Kansas — 
Slavery defeated— Secession follows— Was there a sufficient justifica- 
tion of secession considered in full — ^Legislation of government all 
favorable to slavery — ^No more inviting slave territory — Controversy 
finally became one of opinions— Non-execution of fugitive slave law — 
Alone not a sufficient justification of secession — ^New pledges and 
guaranties offered in 1861 — Amendment to constitution proposed pro- 
tecting slavery— Refiux in opinion in the North— Unpopularity of 
Abolitionists— Despair of Union men— Haughty bearing of Southern 
senators and representatives— No concessions would satisfy the South — 
Summary of facts— 491avery would exist to-day but for the repeal of the 
Miasoori Compromise. 

The right of revolution on the part of the people when 
oppressed by intolerable wrongs is not denied by any one 
at this day. This right was exercised by our ancestors 
in the days of the American Bevolution, as it had been 
previously by their ancestors both in England and in 
Scotland. At a later day, our kinsmen in Texas threw off 
the yoke of Mexican tyranny, and by arms achieved their 
independence. In Tennessee, the wise men who framed 
the constitution of 1796, with the recollection of the long 
trials of their ancestors still fresh in their minds, asserted 
this principle as one of the inalienable rights of freemen, 
too sacred to be touched or impaired by the legislature, in 
the following words : 

276 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

*'That government being instituted for the common 
benefit, the doctrine of non-resistance against arbitrary 
power and oppression is absurd, slavish and destructive of 
the good and happiness of mankind." 

In popular revolutions, each individual must judge for 
himself whether or not he will throw ofif his allegiance to 
the existing government. Certainly this is true as long as 
that government affords him protection. The theory of 
secession was, that when a state, by its people, went 
through the regular forms of withdrawing from the Union, 
this was the exercise of an act of sovereignty on the part 
of the people, which carried with it the allegiance of every 
individual in the state. If it is conceded that secession is 
a constitutional right on the part of the states, there can 
be no denial of the truth of this proposition. 

But the right of the states to secede from the Union, 
either peaceably or by force, has at all times been denied 
by a majority of the greatest statesmen and the best intel- 
lects of the land. Of those holding this opinion, I need 
only mention the names of Hamilton, Marshall, Henry, 
Lee, the father of Robert E. Lee, Clay, Webster, Calhoun, 
Jackson, Lincoln and Douglas. Mr. Calhoun, though he 
believed in the doctrine of nullification on the part of a 
state, and induced the people of South Carolina to under- 
take to exercise this right, denied the right of a state to 
secede from the Union. He held that secession was revo- 
lution.* In General Long's **Life of General Robert E. 
Lee," there is a letter from the latter to his son, written 
from Texas, dated January, 1861, in which he said : 

'* Secession is nothing but revolution. The framers of 
our constitution never exhausted so much labor, wisdom 
and forbearance in its formation, and surrounded it with 
so many guards and securities, if it was intended to be 
broken up by every member of the Confederacy at will. 
It is intended for 'perpetual Union, * so expressed in the 

* Greeley's " Civn Conflict," Vol. I, p. 357. 

Secession. 277 

preamble, and for the establishment of a government, not 
a compact, which can only be dissolved by revolution, or 
the consent of all the people in convention assembled. It 
is idle to talk of secession." 

And yet it is easy to see that General Lee, while holding 
these views, might go into secession on the ground that 
his state had done so, believing, according to the theory 
of strict states' rights, that his first allegiance and duty 
were due to his state. Such was, I believe, his own justi- 
fication of his course in 1861. 

It is manifest from the preamble of the constitution of 
the United States that its framers contemplated a per- 
petual union, since they declared one of their objects to 
be "to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our 
posterity." Nullification had its origin in American poli- 
tics in certain resolutions introduced in the legislature of 
Kentucky, in 1798, known as the "Resolutions of '98," 
written by Mr. JefPerson. One of these declared that 
when the general government assumed powers not dele- 
gated by the states, "a nullification of the act was the 
rightful remedy."* They declared, however, that the act 
nullified must be "so palpably against the constitution as 
to manifest an undisguised declaration ; that the compact 
between the states was no longer to be regarded." The 
separate states were to be the judges whether such a con- 
dition had arisen as justified nullification, each state judg- 
ing for itself. 

It is difficult to conceive that the great intellect of one 
of the founders of the government, and a sincere lover of 
the Union, could have become so clouded by party spirit 
as to induce him thus to set aside the supreme court, the 
tribunal especially created by the constitution for the de- 
termination of such questions, and to substitute for it 
mere political bodies — ^the legislatures of the states. Thus 

» Parton'8 " Life of Jackson," Vol. Ill, p. 433. 

278 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

were sown the seeds of dissolution only nine years after 
the constitution went into effect. 

Mr. Calhoun, when he induced the legislature of South 
Carolina, in 1832, to nullify an act of congress, was only 
carrying into practical effect the doctrine of Mr. Jefferson. 
The first clause of the South Carolina Ordinance of Nulli- 
fication declared : 

''That the tariff law of 1828, and the amendment to the 
same of 1832, were null, void and no law, nor binding upon 
this state, its officers or citizens.'* 

To cut off any attempt to have the constitutionality of 
the nullifying act tested in the Supreme Court of the 
United States, it was provided that no appeal should be 
granted in any case involving its validity, that no copy of 
the proceedings in such case should be allowed, and any 
attempt to appeal should be dealt with as a contempt of 
court. This was done on the ground that the state was 
the sole judge of the grievance complained of. 

Finally, it was provided, that if the government of the 
United States should attempt to enforce its tariff laws in 
that state, then South Carolina would no longer consider 
herself a member of the Federal Union, and would forth- 
with proceed to organize a separate government. 

President Jackson at once took steps to enforce the tariff 
laws in South Carolina, by sending Gleneral Winfield Scott, 
with an army and navy, to the harbor of Charleston, and 
soon nullification was at an end. 

Nullification was the parent of secession. The theory 
on which the right of secession was founded was that the 
constitution was a mere compact between the states, and 
that they still remained sovereignties, with the right to 
withdraw from that compact at their will. It may be well 
to inquire what are the essential attributes of a sovereign 
state ? Among these are the right to make war, conclude 
treatise of peace, form alliances, grant letters of marque 
and reprisal, raise and support armies, provide and main- 
tain a navy, lay and collect duties, imposts, excises and 

Secession. 279 

export duties, regulate commerce and trade with foreign 
nations, define and punish piracies and felonies committed 
on the high seas and ofPenses against the laws of nations, 
coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign 
coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures, emit 
bills of credit, establish post offices and post roads, and 
provide for copyrights. There are other attributes belong- 
ing to a sovereignty, but these are the leading ones, without 
which no state can be called sovereign, except in a qualified 

Now, by the very terms of the constitution, every one of 
these rights was conferred on the national government by 
the states and denied to themselves. Thus : 

No state shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or con- 
federation, grant letters of marque or reprisal, coin money, 
emit bills of credit, make anything but gold and silver 
coin a legal tender in payment of debts, pass any bill of 
attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation 
of contracts, or grant any title of nobility. No state shall, 
without the consent of congress, lay any duties on imports 
or exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for 
executing its inspection laws. No state shall, without the 
consent of congress, lay any duty of tonnage, keep armies 
or ships of war in time of peace, enter into any agreement 
or compact with another state, or with a foreign power, or 
engage in war, unless actually invaded, or in such im- 
minent danger as will admit of no delay. 

Finally it was provided that the constitution, and the 
laws of the United States, made in pursuance thereof, and 
such treaties as might be made, should be ''the supreme 
law of the land, and the judges of every state shall be 
bound thereby, anything in the constitution and laws of 
any state to the contrary notwithstanding. ' ' In the man- 
agement of their own local afPairs the states still remained 

It is often argued that the government of the United 
States is only the agent of the states, with certain limited 

280 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

powers, and certain prescribed duties to be perfonned by 
them. And yet here is the declaration in the constitution 
itself that it is the supreme law of the land, and that the 
judges of the states shall be bound by it notwithstanding 
the state laws may conflict with it. Where there is a con- 
flict this constitution overrides all state laws and con- 

In considering the question whether the South was 
justified in 1861 in its attempt to overthrow the Union, 
by the great revolution then inaugurated, it is necessary 
to review the controversy between the two sections in 
reference to slavery. From the beginning there was more 
or less antagonism between them on this subject. But 
after the year 1834, important events rapidly followed each 
other, revealing and developing the deep-seated diversity 
of opinion and interest existing between the two great 
sections of the country. 

The refusal to receive and consider Abolition petitions 
by the house of representatives, in 1838, gave a real 
potentiality to the Abolition and the Anti-slavery party. 
In 1844, the scheme for annexing Texas to the United 
States was presented to the country by the Democratic 
party, with an almost open avowal that it was with the 
purpose of strengthening slavery. A portion of the North- 
ern people now, for the first time, took alarm at the de- 
signs of the slave party. The annexation of T^xas was 
consummated in 1846. This, however, did not satisfy the 
South. Still more slave territory was wanted. In May, 
1846, the country was startled by the announcement that 
**war existed" between the United States and Mexico. 
Mexico was overrun by the armies of the United States, 
and its capitol captured. A treaty followed resulting in 
the acquisition of vast additional territory. The South 
hoped to profit by this acquisition, by securing California 
as a slave state. The contest, over the admission of that 
state, over the organization of the new territories, and the 
passage of a new fugitive slave law, was long and bitter. 

Secession. 281 

Certain of the Southern States, notably South Carolina and 
Mississippi, were warmly in favor of seceding from the 
Union at that time. But the patriotism and good sense of 
the people overrode the ambition and the hot-headedness 
of the politicians. Mr. Clay's compromise measures of 
1850 all passed, not as a whole, but separately. For the 
time being these gave peace to the country. The clouds 
of secession were for a time blown away. 

As was most natural, these several acts on the part of 
slaveholders, and particularly their intemperate language 
and haughty demeanor, in 1850, with their open threat of 
dissolving the Union, produced a counter current of ex- 
citement and ill-will in the North. The Abolition and 
Free-soil parties were by these means greatly augmented. 
If all parties had acted in good faith in maintaining these 
compromises, it is probable, indeed, almost certain, that 
the calamities of 1861-5 might have been averted, or, at 
least, indefinitely postponed. In the party conventions of 
1852, both of the political parties, the Whigs and the 
Democrats, solemnly pledged themselves to abide by those 
measures as a final settlement of the questions embraced 
in them, and to resist all attempts to renew the agitation 
of the slavery question in or out of congress. Every ques- 
tion relating to the future status of slavery in the terri- 
tories, as well as in Texas, had been settled by the Mis- 
souri Compromise of 1820 or by that of 1850. 

President Pierce, in his inaugural address, in 1853, 
pledged himself to uphold these compromises. In his 
message to congress he said those measures had ''given 
renewed vigor to our institutions and restored a sense of 
repose and security to the public mind." All parties were 
pledged to the support of the adjustment of 1850, except 
the Abolitionists and the Free-soil party. In the presi- 
dential election of 1852, the Free-soil party only cast in 
all the North, for John P. Hale, its candidate for president, 
165,825 votes. Agitation of the slavery question had 
nearly ceased everywhere. Occasionally, but only rarely, 

282 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

were complaints heard in the North about the execution of 
the new fugitive slave law, but even this was becoming 
less and less. As remarked by Mr. Blaine, the *'era of 
good feeling of Mr. Monroe's time seemed to have re- 

But, beneath all this calm and smoothness on the sur- 
face, there was a hidden and a deep discontent on the part 
of the strong pro-slavery leaders of the South. California, 
which they had hoped to see a slave state, was already 
lost. That destroyed the former equilibrium of the two 
sections in the senate. But there was still to be settled 
and formed into states a vast territory west of the Missouri 
River. The people who were flocking into that region 
were already asking for the organization of a territorial 
government under the name of Nebraska. It was soon 
learned that the soil of that region produced the same 
products that were raised in Missouri, where slave labor 
was supposed to be profitable. But the Missouri Com- 
promise line prohibited slavery there. Then, why not re- 
peal the law of 1820? The opportunity was a favorable 
one. The President was known to be under the influence 
of Southern men. A majority of both houses of congress 
was believed to be under the same influence. 

In one month after Mr. Pierce had said that the repose 
of the country ** should suffer no shock during his admin- 
istration," that repose was rudely broken by Mr. Archi- 
bald Dixon, of Kentucky, the successor of Mr. Clay, in the 
senate, arising in his place and giving notice of his inten- 
tion to move **that the Missouri Compromise be repealed, 
and that the citizens of the several states shall" (should) 
'*be at liberty to take and hold their slaves within any of 
the territories." Soon after this, Mr. Douglas reported a 
bill in the senate to organize the territories of Kansas and 
Nebraska, in which it was declared that the Missouri Com- 
promise was inoperative and void, because * 'inconsistent 
with the principle of non-intervention by congress with 
slavery in the states and territories as recognized by the 

Secession. 283 

compromise measures of 1850." Four months after this 
time, this bill had received the approval of both houses of 
congress and of the President, and the time-honored Mis- 
souri Compromise, which had received the homage of the 
people of both sections for thirty years, was no more. 

Mr. Blaine says that if Mr. Douglas had ' 'proposed to 
abolish the constitution itself, the surprise could scarcely 
have been greater. ' ' Forty Democratic representatives from 
the North refused to follow Mr. Douglas and his allies. But 
the measure received the support of every Whig senator 
from the South, except that of John Bell, of Tennessee, 
and of every Democratic member of the house from the 
South, except Thomas H. Benton, of Missouri, and John 
Millson, of Virginia. Sam Houston was the only Demo- 
cratic senator from the South who voted against the meas- 
ure. Of the Whigs in the house from the South only 
seven could be induced to withstand the pro-slavery pres- 
sure. Of these, honorable mention may be made of Emer- 
son Ethridge and William Gullom, of Tennessee, and of 
Theodore G. Hunt, of Louisiana. Such tried Whigs in 
the senate as John M. Clayton, George E. Badger, James 
A. Pierce and James C. Jones, all united in destroying the 
greatest monument erected by the genius and the patriot- 
ism of Mr. Clay. 

Never before in the history of the country, and never 
but once since, has there been aroused such universal and 
wide-spread excitement as this measure created in the 
North. The angry winds of popular indignation swept 
over the country with the violence of a tornado. The 
clamor of the Abolitionists, which had died to a whisper 
under the quieting effect of the peaceful measures of 1850, 
once more burst forth with terrific madness. Rage and 
fury took the place of moderation. Conservative Demo- 
crats and conservative Whigs, Free-soilers and Abolition- 
ists, and Anti-slavery men of every shade of opinion, coa- 
lesced and came together with one mind and a common 
purpose, under the new name of Republicans. The old 

284 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

Whig party, which after so many years of honorable 
achievement in statesmanship, and which constituted a 
large and the better part of the Northern people, was 
swept almost solidly into the new organization. In the 
presidential election of 1856, the 155,825 votes cast for 
Mr. Hale in 1852 were swollen to 1,341,264 for Mr. Fre- 
mont, a gain of nearly twelve hundred thousand votes. 

The repeal of the Missouri Compromise line was re- 
garded by a majority of the people of the North, and by 
many of the South, as a gross violation of good faith and 
the wanton destruction of a sacred national compact. If 
this could be destroyed for party or sectional purposes, 
there was nothing so sacred, so consecrated by time, as to 
be safe and beyond the ruthless hand of sectional ambition 
and sectional necessity. It was well known that the object 
was to open the territory north of 36° 30' for the entrance 
of slavery, which, under the compact of 1820, had been 
forever dedicated to freedom by Southern as well as North- 
ern votes. This wrong naturally created a frenzy of rage 
in the North, and resulted in the election of Mr. Lincoln 
in 1860. Other causes legitimately growing out of this 
repeal subsequently contributed to this result. But all 
can be traced to the bad faith of 1864 in repealing the 
Missouri Compromise, which had divided our territory 
fairly, it was thought, between freedom and slavery. 

At first view, it seems that the repeal of this line was an 
act of supreme folly on the part of the slaveholders. 
Perhaps it was not so from their point of view. They 
were led by able, sagacious, far-seeing statesmen. They 
needed and desired more slave territory and more slave 
states, whether the South should remain in the Union or 
go out of it. In the former case, the equilibrium in the 
senate, lost on the admission of California as a free state, 
must be restored at all hazards, or slavery would always 
be at the mercy of the North. On the other hand, if the 
South should separate from the North, it was imperative 
for its safety and power that its territory should be as ex- 

Secession. 285 

tended, and its resources as* varied and as great as possible. 
It was still possible in 1854, it was thought, to capture 
Kansas (then including nearly all of Colorado) and Utah 
(including all of Nevada) and New Mexico (then including 
Arizona) , all stretching along substantially the same lati- 
tude as that of Missouri, except New Mexico, which is 
south of it. All of these lay north of the Missouri Com- 
promise line, and slavery was therefore prohibited in them. 
Thus, in order to enter that region with slaves, it was nec- 
essary to remove that inhibition. If, by boldness and dar- 
ing enterprise, Kansas could be won as a slave state, it 
would probably control the destiny of Utah and New 
Mexico, as Missouri was expected to control the status of 

The conception of seizing and occupying this large terri- 
tory in the interest of slavery was a daring and magnifi- 
cent one. If successful, slavery would be secure for sev- 
eral generations longer, and the slaveholding influence 
would continue to dominate the councils of the nation. 
On the other hand, if the Southern States should secede 
from the Union, the territory thus secured would, with the 
existing slave states, form a splendid Confederacy, able to 
compete successfully with its Northern neighbor. The 
scheme was a hazardous one, but the results magnificent, 
if it should be successful. No time was to be lost. The 
free states were year by year becoming stronger, while the 
slave states were growing relatively weaker. Shortly be- 
fore the death of Mr. Calhoun, in 1850, he wrote to a 
friend in Alabama that it was the duty of the South to 
force upon the North the issue of the preservation of slav- 
ery in the Union. '*We are now stronger," said he, **than 
we shall hereafter be politically and morally. Unless we 
bring on the issue, delay to us will be dangerous indeed." 
If he had lived, the issue might have been forced in 1850. 

As soon as the Kansas-Nebraska bill, repealing the Mis- 
souri Compromise line was passed, thus opening all the 
territory of the United States to the entrance of slavery, a 

286 East Tennessee and the Oivil War. 

rush was made by the South for Kansas, to secure that 
territory. The North was equally alert, and poured in its 
thousands to take part in the last peaceful contest oyer 
slavery in the territories. After a long, exciting and bitter 
contest, sometimes resulting in bloodshed, and narrowly 
escaping civil war, Kansas came into the Union as a free 
state. All hope of an equilibrium in the senate on the 
part of the South, was now forever hopelessly gone. Then 
followed the memorable presidential election of 1860, with 
all its wild excitements and striking dramatic historical in- 
cidents, resulting in the election of a sectional candidate 
for president. Every one knew, as the result became 
known, that great and stirring events were now impending. 
In the contingency which had just happened, it was well 
known that South Carolina stood ready to withdraw from 
the Union. Scarcely had the exultant echoes of the elec- 
tion died away on the air, before that state, through its 
legislature, took measures in that direction — ^the first step 
in the mighty drama which was speedily to follow. A 
month later, and South Carolina no longer belonged to the 
the splendid sisterhood of states in the Union. One bright 
star had disappeared. Others soon followed, shooting 
madly from their spheres. In three months a Southern 
Confederacy was organized, with its president, its depart- 
ment chiefs, and with an army in the field. The sound of 
the preparation for war was heard in every seceding state. 
While the North looked on in petrified stupor, war, open 
and flagrant, was commenced by the seizure, by organized 
armed men, of every assailable fort and arsenal belonging 
to the government, within the seceding states. Finally, 
on the ever .memorable 12th of April, 1861, while the presi- 
dent of the Republic and a majority of the people of the 
North, stood still with outstretched arms, pleading for 
peace, pleading with their erring sisters to return, a niun- 
ber of batteries erected for the purpose, simultaneously 
opened fire on the national flag which still floated over 
Fort Sumter. The great conflict which was to preserve or 

Secession. 287 

to destroy the Union of our fathers, which was to estab- 
lish the supremacy of slavery, or to destroy it, had com- 

In the light of history, was there a sufficient justification 
of the Soudi in thus rushing into war? Let Mr. Alexander 
H. Stephens, late vice-president of the Southern Confeder- 
acy, answer: '*The government of the United States," 
said Mr. Stephens, before the Georgia legislature in 1860, 
' 'is the best and freest government ; the most equal in its 
measures, the most just in its decisions, and the most in- 
spiring in its principles to elevate the race of men, that 
the sun of Heaven ever shone upon. Now, for you to at- 
tempt to overthrow such a government as this, under which 
we have lived for more than three-quarters of a century, in 
which we have gained our wealth, our standing as a nation, 
our domestic safety, while the elements of peril are around, 
with peace and tranquillity accompanied with unbounded 
prosperity and rights unassailed — ^is the height of mad- 
ness, folly and wickedness, to which I can neither lend my 
sanction, nor my vote.'* 

Every act of the government from its foundation so far 
as we can recall, had been favorable to the slaveholders. 
There was not, in its entire history, a single act of hostile 
legislation. Even the Ordinance of 1787, for the govern- 
ment of the territory north-west of the Ohio River, in ex- 
cluding after its passage the introduction of slaves into 
that territory, was not regarded at the time as hostile. It 
was passed unanimously, excepting one vote from New 
York. The Southern members all supported it.' 

In the ordinance prepared by Mr. Jefferson in the Con- 
gress of the Confederation in 1784, he proposed to '^exclude 
slavery after the year 1800, from all our territory already 
ceded or to be ceded," north of the parallel of 31 degrees. 
This would have excluded slavery from Kentucky, Ten- 

* Roosevelt's " Winning of the West," Vol. in, p. 267. 

288 East Tennessee cmd the Civil War. 

nessee, Alabama and Mississippi, as well as from the 
North-west Territory. 

The fugitive slave law of 1793, which was passed under 
our constitution, was enacted in the interest of slavery. 
Mr. Webster, in at least two of his speeches, one at Buf* 
falo and one at Albany, in 1861, declared that the law of 
1793 was more unfavorable to the slave than that of I860,, 
and therefore more favorable to the slave owner.* 

In framing the Federal Constitution, the slaveholding 
states obtained, as it seems at this day, two important and 
remarkable concessions and advantages, aside from the 
clause providing for the return of fugitives bound to serv- 
ice. Considering the strong anti-slavery feeling then ex- 
isting in the states, both North and South, the provision 
sanctioning the African slave trade imtil the year 1808 is 
extraordinary. But perhaps quite as noticeable is the pro- 
vision for the apportionment of representatives and direct 
taxes among the states, which were to be determined by 
adding to the number of free persons, including those 
bound to service for a term of years, three-fifths of the 
slaves ; that is, the number of representatives in congress 
and in the election of president and vice-president was to 
be increased in the slave states three-fifths by reason of 
the slaves. At the same time, when direct taxes were 
to be laid by the government, a slave, though property, 
was counted, not at his full value, but at three-fifths 
thereof. Both these provisions were in the interest and 
for the benefit of slavery. The convention had come to a 
stand-still on the question of the further importation of 
slaves, the ratio of representation, the right to regulate 
commerce, and other questions, and there was danger that 
it would break up without forming a constitution. North 
Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia claimed the right 
to import slaves, and threatened not to enter into the 
Union unless the right was conceded. Finally, the New 

» " Webster's Works, Vol. II. 

Secession. 289 

England States, in the interest of their own commerce, 
and of Northern ship-owners, united with those states, 
and adopted the clause allowing the slave trade to con- 
tinue imtil the year 1808. The constitution was, as to 
these questions, a compromise without which it never could 
have been formed. 

In the acquisition of the Territory of Louisiana, in 1803, 
the slaveholding interest of the states was greatly bene- 
fited, though this was not the object of Mr. Jefferson in 
making the purchase. By reason of it, Louisiana came 
into the Union a few years later as a slave state. After- 
wards, Arkansas and Missouri, which formed a part of the 
Louisiana purchase, were admitted also as slave states. 
Again, in the purchase of Florida, in 1819, slavery was 
strengthened and its area extended, that territory coming 
into the Union as a slave state. In the controversy over the 
admission of Missouri, in 1820, as we have seen, the South 
accepted and secured the compromise line of the parallel 
of 36 degrees, 30 minutes, south of which slavery might 
be introduced, and north of which it was forever prohib- 
ited. In this the South got all it asked. 

When we come down to a later period, to the annexa- 
tion of Texas, in 1846, the South gained another slave 
state, seven times as large as Tennessee, with an agree- 
ment forming a part of the fimdamental contract, that four 
states might be formed out of the territory, all of which 
would, of course, have been slave states. Then followed 
the Mexican War, inaugurated, as was charged and be- 
lieved, by President Polk and other Southern men, for the 
purpose of strengthening and extending slavery. The war 
resulted, as was anticipated, in the acquisition of a large 
addition to our territory. Out of this the South hoped 
to gain more slave states. New Mexico and the southern 
part of Calif omia lay south of the line of 86 degrees, 30 
minutes, and it was supposed that slavery could go there. 
The North, seeing the ambitious designs of the slavehold- 

290 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

ers, had become greatly aroused, and many of its statesmen 
determined that not a foot more of the common territory 
of the United States should be ^ ^stained" with the crime 
of slavery. The excitement became intense. Many of the 
pro-slavery leaders in the South advocated as a remedy 
the secession of the slave states from the Union. The at- 
tempt would have been made in 1860, instead of 1861, but 
it was found that the people were not yet ready for that 
hazardous and startling movement. While the storm of 
excitement was still raging in congress, and in the coun- 
try, the people of Califomia, in their sovereign capacity, 
formed a constitution excluding slavery from that state. 
The slavery propagandists were indignant at the loss of 
Califomia, but what could they do? The people had de- 
cided the question for themselves. 

In the compromise of 1860, Califomia was admitted aa 
a free state ; New Mexico and Utah were organized as ter- 
ritorial governments, leaving the question of slavery open 
to be settled by the citizens thereof ; the slave trade was 
abolished in the District of Columbia ; the Texas boundary 
line was settled, and a more stringent fugitive slave law 
passed. The law, for the more effectual rendition of 
fugitive slaves to their owners, was framed to suit the 
views of the slaveholders, and was mainly the work of 
a Southern senator, Mr. James M. Mason, of Virginia. 
While this law did not fully meet the approval of the ex- 
treme men of the South, for a time at least, they accepted 
it in good faith. On the other hand, a cry of indignant 
rage on the part of the Abolitionists was at once heard all 
over the North. 

The excitement over the new fugitive slave law, how- 
ever, had gradually died out in 1864, when the Kansas- 
Nebraska bill was thrown as a fire-brand into the maga- 
zine of passion and prejudice, only slumbering in the 
North. It then burst into a devouring flame that never 
afterwards subsided. The South expected to profit by this 
measure, and supposed it was gaining large advantages. 

Secession. 291 

But we have seen that these benefits were as illusory as 
the fabled apples of the East, beautiful to look upon, but 
turning to bitter ashes on the lips. The contest was 
transferred from the arena of congress to the plains of 
Kansas. Under the first trial of the South's new doctrine 
of ** non-intervention and popular sovereignty," Kansas 
was lost, and thus the gateway to New Mexico and Utah 
was closed and barred forever. 

Then came a change of front on the part of the South. 
The doctrine of non-intervention by congress as to slavery 
in the territories, proclaimed in 1864, was abandoned, and 
* 'intervention" for its protection was demanded. As ap- 
plied to the remaining territories, this claim, if it had 
been granted, was a mere airy abstraction, a mere theory 
of no practical value whatever to slavery. It was an easy 
matter to get slavery into the territories. The difficulty 
was to keep it there. By the Kansas-Nebraska bill, as 
well as by the Dred Scott decision, all territory belonging 
to the United States was already open to the introduction 
of slavery. The slave owner was at perfect liberty to take 
his slaves to Utah or New Mexico if he was willing to take 
the hazard of losing them afterwards. Both regions were 
high and mountainous, and supposed to be unfavorable to 
slavery. In these natural conditions, Mr. Webster said in 
1860, in his celebrated 7th of March speech, he found a 
stronger prohibition of slavery than in any possible ordi- 
nance or enactment of congress. He would not, he said, 
* 're-enact the law of God." Under the favorite doctrine 
of the South, adopted in 1864, leaving the people of the 
territories "free to regulate their domestic institutions in 
their own way," slavery could not exist long in any terri- 
tory with a majority of the people thereof hostile to it. 

In the great debates between Mr. Ldncoln and Mr. 
Douglas, in Illinois, in 1868, in reply to a searching ques- 
tion by Mr. Lincoln, the latter said, with great shrewdness, 
avoiding the force of the Dred Scott decision, "the people 
of a territory have the lawful means to introduce or ex- 

292 East Tennessee and the CivU War. 

elude slavery as they choose, for the reason that slavery 
cannot exist unless supported by local police regula- 
tions. ... If the people are opposed to slavery, they 
will, by unfriendly legislation, eflfectually prevent its in- 
troduction." It was the final realization of this fact that 
made the slaveholders in 1860 and 1861 demand that 
* 'slave property should be securely protected (in the terri- 
tories) until the period for the formation of a state govern- 
ment should arrive.'* 

After the admission of Kansas, the controversy became 
one of opinions merely. There was nothing substantial in 
it, except the complaint of the non-execution of the fugi- 
tive slave law. The demand for the protection of slavery 
in the territories was a delusive cry to hide defeat. There 
was not a territory in the land where slavery would have gone 
if all the nation's army had been present to protect it. 
The South demanded protection, but there was nothing to 
protect. The North demanded inhibition, but there was 
nothing to inhibit. The South should have accepted its 
defeat, invited by its own extreme aggressiveness. The 
North should have been satisfied with its triumph, won 
largely for it by its adversaries, and against its own will 
and efforts. 

The charge that the Southern States were deprived of 
their true equality in the Union was without foundation. 
In what respect? No man could point out wherein the 
alleged inequality consisted. 

The charge so often and so constantly made, that the 
Southern States were deprived of their equal rights in the 
territories, is believed to be unfoimded. The foregoing re- 
view conclusively shows the error of the charge. In fact, 
the very last legislation by congress on the subject of slav- 
ery in the territories was dictated by the friends of slavery 
and supported by the South. From the beginning of the 
government all the way down its history to 1854, whatever 
the South demanded in the territories which could be the 
subject of congressional action, was granted. 

Secession. 293 

The most serious charge was the non-execution in good 
faith in the North of the fugitive slave law. Unfortu- 
nately for the people of this country, this was true in some 
of the free state?. Certain states, in their blindness and 
madness, forgetting their duty to the constitution and their 
duty to their sister states, passed laws designed to hinder 
and obstruct the execution of that law. There was, and 
there can be, no justification of the people of any state, 
whether on the plea of material interests or conscientious 
scruples, for nullifying, evading, or defeating a plain con- 
stitutional law. The obstruction of the fugitive slave law 
ought to have been dealt with in the United States courts 
as treason or insurrection. Law, when upheld by strong 
men, is more potent than armies. The misfortune was that 
weak men then ruled in the national administration. 

Conceding the fact that this law was not executed with 
the faithfulness with which it should have been, this alone 
constituted no sufficient justification for dissolving the 
Union. Many of the free states did not aid in any way in 
obstructing or defeating the execution of the law. The 
loss of slaves, and especially the loss by reason of the non- 
execution of this law, except possibly in Virginia, was too 
small to justify the dissolution of a great government. 
South Carolina, the earliest and the loudest in complaints, 
and the first to secede, probably did not lose twenty-five 
fugitive slaves a year. All of the states that seceded, ex- 
cept Virginia and Texas, were protected on their exposed 
border by slave states. It was the border states that did 
not secede on which fell nearly all the loss of runaway 
slaves, and this loss was comparatively insignificant in the 

Now, when it is remembered that secession from the 
Union destroyed the constitutional obligation to return 
fugitives to their owners, and rendered null the law itself, 
it can at once be seen how unjustifiable, in the forum of 
reason and common sense, was secession for this cause. It 

294 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

was blindly throwing away one of the safeguards and se- 
curities the slave owner had for this kind of property, with- 
out getting anything in return. It cannot be easily be- 
lieved that the people of the seceded states attached much 
practical importance to this grievance in determining their 
action in 1861, except as a matter of sacred principle. In 
this regard, it is confessed, they had groimd for serious 
alarm and complaint, as they also had by reason of the 
ceaseless agitation of the slavery question. 

Nor did the election to the presidency of a sectional 
candidate constitute any justifiable ground for secession. 

I do not by any means overlook or underestimate the 
great principle involved by the nullification by a part of 
the Northern states of the fugitive slave law, and the con- 
stant eflforts of Abolitionists to destroy slavery. I con- 
demn these things as earnestly as the most extreme seces- 
sionist. If persisted in, after solemn remonstrance and 
negotiation, the first might have constituted a sufficient 
cause of war, or at least of retaliation ; but, according to 
the opinion of Mr. A. H. Stephens, as we shall see in the 
next chapter, not imtil the last means of diplomacy were 

Certainly the pretense that Mr. Lincoln was a sectional 
candidate came with an exceedingly ill grace from the 
men who nominated and supported Mr. Breckenridge. 
He was nominated on sectional issues, and had no consid- 
erable following, and received no electoral votes, except in 
one section. Mr. Breckenridge and Mr. Lincoln were both 
sectional candidates, and each received only sectional sup- 
port. Mr. Bell was the only national candidate. His 
election would have prevented secession. If the North 
had been as anxious in 1860 to save the Union as it be- 
came in 1861, it would have voted for Mr. Bell, and thus 
saved itself from its deep humiliation in trying to concili- 
ate the South afterwards. 

If, however, Mr. Lincoln had been elected on a platform 
which avowed the purpose of attacking and overthrowing 

Secesidon. 296 

the institution of slavery, and if he had approved that 
purpose, then- the Southern people would have been un- 
worthy of freedom and the respect of mankind, if they had 
not prepared for resistance, and summoned every son of 
theirs to the battle-field. But the very opposite was the 
case. The Chicago Convention of 1860, which nominated 
Mr. Ldncoln, declared in its platform as follows : 

**That the maintenance inviolate of the rights of the 
states and especially the right of each state, to order and 
control its own domestic institutions according to its own 
judgment, exclusively, is essential to that balance of pow- 
ers on which the perpetuation and endurance of our po- 
litical fabric depends, and we denounce the lawless in- 
vasion by armed force of the soil of any state or territory, 
no matter under what pretext, as among the gravest of 

This declaration was in strict accordance with the views 
of Mr. Lincoln, avowed by him in the most explicit man- 
ner in innumerable ways, from the time he first entered 
public life down to the day he was inaugurated as president. 
No man could have been more explicit on this question. 
He not only declared the want of authority on his part 
as president to interfere with slavery, in the states where 
it then existed, but he also in the most solemn manner 
declared to the world that he had no desire, nor intention 
of doing so. Nor had congress any such power. No in- 
telligent man could have been found who would have 
risked his reputation for common sense, by asserting such 
power in that body. As far back as 1780, the first congress 
under the constitution defined its position and its power 
on this subject, in the following lucid words, from which 
it never departed : 

''Resolved, That congress have no authority to interfere 
in the emancipation of slaves, or in the treatment of them 
in any of the states, it remaining with the the several states 
alone to provide rules and regulations therein, which hu- 
manity and good policy require," 

296 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

Mr. Alexander H. Stephens, in his great Union speech 
before the legislature of Georgia, November 14, 1860, de- 
clared that to secede in consequence of the election of Mr. 
Lincoln would be to break the constitution. *'We went 
into the election with this people," he said, **the result 
was diflferent from what we wished, but the election was 
constitutionally held." * And in his letter to Mr. Lincoln, 
already quoted, he said that 'Hhe people of the South do 
not entertain any fears that a Republican administration, 
or at least the one about to be inaugurated, would attempt 
to interfere directly and immediately with slavery in the 

But granting that there was just grounds for apprehen- 
sion on the part of the people of the South, as to the fu- 
ture security of slavery, the events that transpired subse- 
quently to the election of Mr. Lincoln, and before the fir- 
ing on Fort Sumter, were amply suflBcient to remove every 
such fear, and to afford the most convincing assurance of 
its future safety ; indeed, that the slave states would there- 
after enjoy their constitutional rights in the Union, with 
higher and more solemn guaranties than they did in the 
earlier days of the government. New pledges of good faith 
were offered in the most generous terms, and in the most 
fraternal spirit. Six weeks after the election of Mr. 
Lincoln, the country was aroused, as if from a dream, by 
the announcement that South Carolina claimed to be no 
longer a member of the Union. A half dozen other slave 
states were preparing to follow her fatal lead. The North was 
startled, surprised and alarmed. The threats of secession 
made before that time had been regarded by the North as 
mere bluster and bravado. Now it was seen that they were 
the expression of a mature and long-settled determination. 

Congress was in session, and a committee of thirteen 
members was appointed by the senate, and one of thirty- 
one in the house, to consider matters of compromise and 

^ Nicolay A Hay's " Life of Lincoln," Vol. HI, p. 267. 

Secession. 297 

conciliation. The senate committee failed to agree on 
anything. The house committee, of which Thomas Cor- 
win was chairman, reported almost unanimously, only 
three members voting against the recommendations, in 
favor of the abolition of all the personal liberty laws of 
the Northern States ; for the admission of New Mexico, 
which then included Arizona, as a slave state; for an 
amendment of the fugitive slave law providing that the 
question of the right to freedom of a fugitive should be 
tried in the state from which he fled ; and for an amend- 
ment to the constitution providing that no subsequent 
amendment, having for its object any interference with 
slavery shall originate with any state that does not recog- 
nize that relation within its own limits, or shall be valid 
without the assent of every one of the states composing 
the Union. The last proposition came from Charles Fran- 
cis Adams, a distinguished anti-slavery man from Massa- 
chusetts, who had been the candidate of the Free-soil party 
for the vice-presidency in 1848. 

While the propositions were under consideration in the 
house, Mr. Corwin, also a distinguished member of the 
Free-soil party, offered the following as a substitute, to 
become the thirteenth amendment to the constitution: 
''No amendment shall be made to the constitution which 
will authorize or give to congress the power to abolish or 
interfere within any state with the domestic institutions 
thereof, including that of persons held for labor or service 
by the laws of said state." This proposed amendment 
passed the house by a vote of 133 to 66, and the senate by 
a vote of 24 to 12. In the house it received the votes of 
the following distinguished members of the Republican 
party : Mr. Sherman, Mr. Oolfax, Mr. Charles F. Adams, 
Mr. Howard, Mr. Windom, and Messrs. Moorehead and 
McPherson. In the senate, of the Southern senators who 
voted for it were Mr. Hunter, Mr. Nicholson, Mr. Sebastian 
and Mr. Gwin. The following Republican senators voted 
for it : Anthony, Baker, Dixon, Foster, Grimes, Harlan^ 

298 East Tennessee and the Civil War, 

Morrill and Ten Eyck. Mr. Seward, Mr. Fessenden and 
Mr. Collamer did not vote, and as pairs were not an- 
nounced, Mr. Blaine says, ''it may be presumed that they 
consented to the passage of the amendment.*' 

This proposed amendment tied the hands of congress 
forever. No amendment looking to the abolition of 
slavery could ever be passed by congress. So far as the 
national government was concerned, it made slavery per- 
petual, and firmly entrenched it in the constitution. Two 
states, Ohio and Maryland, soon ratified the amendment. 
The New England States rejected it. In many of the 
states, by reason of the rapidity of passing events, and 
the rage caused by the firing on Sumter, the amendment 
was never considered. Had not the hope of peace been 
rudely destroyed by the haste of the secession leaders, per- 
haps in part to prevent this very thing, there is strong 
reason to believe that it would have secured the approved 
of enough states to have made it a part of the constitu- 
tion, provided the Southern States had promptly ratified 
it, instead of madly precipitating the country into war. 

Security for slavery in the Union was not what the ex- 
treme Southern leaders wanted. It was independence — 
a new government, outside of the Union. Their acts tend 
to the conclusion that no compromise, no concession, no 
constitutional guaranties would have satisfied them. 

In the senate, the committee of thirteen reported in 
favor of immediately admitting New Mexico, including 
Arizona, into the Union, with the slave code already ex- 
isting there, thus making it a slave state. Another 
strange anomaly followed. For twelve years the Free- 
soil party had been earnestly insisting on the application 
of the **Wilmot proviso" (prohibiting slavery) to every 
territory that was about to be organized. It had been 
successfully demanded in reference to Oregon, lying away 
north of any slave state. It had been demanded also at 
a later day as to Kansas. Indeed, the cardinal article in 
the creed of the Republican party was opposition to the 

Secession. 299 

extension of slavery into the new territories. On this 
creed the victory of 1860 had been won. On this issue, 
nominally at least, the North and South had joined battle 
in that canvass. And yet, so great was the alarm in the 
North, in the winter of 1860-1, that acts were passed, re- 
ported by a Democratic senator, Mr. Greene of Missouri, 
organizing the territories of Colorado, Dakota and Nevada, 
all north of the parallel of 36 degrees 30 minutes, without 
any slavery restriction, and the Republicans quietly al- 
lowed these things to be done without a word of protest. 
Mr. Sumner, Mr. Seward, Mr. Wade and Mr. Chandler, 
and other stalwart Republicans, and Mr. Stevens, Mr. 
Lovejoy, and others in the house sat still while the comer- 
stone of their party edifice was thus openly taken away. 
These men and their associates had, in 1860, denounced 
Mr. Webster as recreant and a traitor for doing, in the case 
of New Mexico, what they were now doing themselves. 
However much their conduct in this and in other cases, 
during the winter of 1860-1, may expose them to the im- 
peachment of insincerity in their previous professions— of 
being guided by a regard for personal and party success 
rather than by a solemn regard for principle— the charge 
would only be partially true in this case. No doubt there 
was some truth in it, for they were ambitious politicians 
and political agitators. They had gone on agitating the 
slavery question, sometimes in defense of the rights of the 
North, and in the interest of good faith and solemn com- 
pacts, as in 1864, and sometimes aggressively, if not 
wantonly, assailing the rights of their brethren in the 
South, until they had helped to set in motion currents of 
angry passion that were now roaring around them moun- 
tain high, before which they sat appalled and speechless. 
In common with their co-agitators in the South, they had 
raised a storm that threatened the destruction of the very 
foundations of the government. The high tide of popular 
excitement which had lifted the Republican party into 
power was now rapidly ebbing and flowing outward. 

300 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

In view of the terrible dangers that were only too 

visible in the South, threatening the integrity of the Union, 
a reflux in feeling had set in in the North. Public meetings 
were held all over the free states, imploring conciliation, 
compromise, concession. A petition of the mayor and 
aldermen with twenty-two thousand signatures came even 
from Boston, praying for the adoption of the Crittenden 
Compromise — a measure similar to the Corwin amendment. 
Wendell Phillips, after one of his eloquent and bitter 
harangues in Boston, had to be escorted home by the 
police to save him from violence ; George William Curtis 
had to cancel one of his engagements to lecture in the 
peaceful and staid city of Philadelphia, to avoid mob 
violence. Horace Greeley would let the * 'wayward sisters 
go in peace" rather than have bloodshed. Thus the 
Abolitionists and the Anti-slavery men, when brought face 
to face with the terrible reality of secession, were paral- 
ized with the appalling danger. They were now willing to 
make the most humiliating concessions for the sake of sav- 
ing the Union. It was the knowledge of these facts, with 
a sincere desire to save the Union, that largely influenced 
their course in Washington, in 1861. 

What a change since 1860 in the tone of the defiant Abo- 
litionists. Then slavery must be abolished; now they 
were willing that it should be extended and protected. 
Then the constitution was a league with hell, because it 
recognized slavery; now it should be amended so as to 
lock and bar the door forever against its extinction. And 
now for the first time, perhaps, they felt in their hearts the 
warm glow of a love of country, instead of a love of a mere 
section. Such revolutions in feeling and sentiment as took 
place in the Northern mind in the winter of 1861, are no 
uncommon things in the history of nations. Like the 
waves of the sea, nothing is more unstable than the mind 
of the people. 

During the months of December, January and February, 
great events followed one another with the rapidity of 

JOr^KI'li ,\XI>KKS(>X. 

wial Jmltje ami Eighinn ('. S. .Vjio. 

Secession. 301 

shadows passing over the fields. Seven states had already 
seceded. Others were preparing to follow. The South 
had become a great military camp. The Southern people 
were rushing to arms like the Crusaders under the preach- 
ing of Peter the Hermit. Nearly all the Southern senators 
and representatives had gradually gone home. The scene 
in Washington during the months of January and Febru- 
ary would have been supremely ludicrous, if it had not 
been supremely perilous — so full was it of the dark 
shadows of coming events. While Northern senators 
and representatives, and the Peace Congress, and all the 
great functionaries of government, and the press of the 
North, were using every possible means of conciliation — 
were, in fact, actually imploring their Southern brethren 
not to leave — ^the latter were quietly and deliberately pack- 
ing up their effects ready to depart when it should suit 
them. The deliberation with which they made ready to 
leave for their homes was in the highest degree im- 
pressive. From time to time as their several states 
seceded, in a highly picturesque manner, they formally de- 
livered their farewell speeches. Their last words, in some 
cases kind and regretful at parting, were in others full of 
bitter reproaches for the men who had, in some cases, 
bowed themselves to the very dust to placate them. When 
from time to time they returned to their homes, they did 
so in triumph. 

Consternation and dark despair clouded every loyal face. 
No one knew what to do. Indecision filled the high places 
of the government. The president was irresolute in the 
presence of the enemies of the Union. Some of the mem- 
bers of his cabinet were plotting revolution. The only 
persons with erect heads and unclouded brows were the 
bold and daring Southern leaders, who with confident 
bearing, bore themselves as if already conquerors. Almost 
Stygian darkness seemed to be gatliering over the capitol. 
The croaking raven, with sable wings, uttered its dismal 
cry, ominous of coming disaster. Only one true man in 

302 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

all the North was calm, unmoved, undismayed by the 
raging storm. That man was Abraham Lincoln. He 
uttered no reproaches and no threats, but in the spirit of ex- 
alted patriotism invoked the blessings of peace upon his 
distracted country. In the Southern States, even then, 
mad ambition had its feet in the stirrups and grasped the 
reins, and waited only for the bugle call sounding the 
charge. Such was the condition of the country when 
AbraJiam Lincoln became president, March 4, 1861. 

None of the proposed concessions — ^indeed, no possible 
concessions, it is believed — ^would have satisfied these 
Southern leaders. Attempted conciliation only served to 
make them more confident and daring. It strengthened 
their belief that secession would be accomplished peace- 
fully — even without firing a gun. The conduct of the 
North was taken as evidence of fear of the South. They 
totally misunderstood, as they found out a few weeks later , 
the motive and spirit of the North. 

Senator Alfred Iverson, of Gteorgia, in withdrawing 
from the Senate, said: '*For myself, unless my opinions 
greatly change, I shall never consent to the reconstruction 
of the Federal Union. The Rubicon is passed, and with 
my consent shall never be recrossed." 

On the 10th day of April, 1861, in response to a sere- 
' nade in Charleston, Roger A. Pryor, lately a member of 
congress from Virginia, said, among other things : 

**(}entlemen, I thank you, especially that you have at 
last annihilated this cursed Union, reeking with corrup- 
tion, and insolent with excess of tyranny. Thank Grod, it 
is at last blasted and riven by the lightning wrath of an 
outraged and indignant people. Not only is it gone, but 
gone forever. In the expressive language of Scripture, it 
is water spilt on the ground and can not be gathered up. 
Like Lucifer, son of the morning, it has fallen, never to 
rise again. For my part, gentlemen, if Abraham Lincoln 
and Hannibal Hamlin, to-morrow, were to abdicate their 
office, and were to give me a blank sheet of paper to write 

Secession. 303 

the conditions of re-annexation to the defunct Union, I 
would scornfully spurn the overture. . . . I do in- 
voke 70U, in your demonstrations of popular opinion, in 
your exhibitions of official interest, to give no countenance 
to the idea of reconstruction." 

It thus appears that, from the adoption of the federal 
constitution down to 1861, there had not been a single act 
of national legislation, nor a single act on the part of the 
national govemmant designed to be hostile to slavery. 
Some of these may, in their operation, have proved in- 
jurious to the interests of slavery, notably the repeal of the 
Missouri Compromise line ; but they were passed to help 
that interest and not to injure it. It is, therefore, evident 
that there existed, in 1861, no substantial justification for 
secession, or revolution under the name of secession. It 
was absolutely without any justifiable cause, when viewed 
in the light of facts and history, except as to the questions, 
easy of adjustment, hereafter to be pointed out. 

And when we recall the conduct of the Northern states- 
men and the Northern people, in 1861 ; when we remember 
that congress proposed to amend the organic law of the 
land, in reference to slavery, engrafting that institution 
upon the constitution as never before, in language so strong 
as to defy evasion, and hedging slavery about with guards 
and buttresses which practically made it national as well 
as perpetual ; when we recall how the people of the North 
almost abased themselves in manifestations of good will 
toward their Southern brethren, it becomes plainly mani- 
fest, in view of these facts, that this great and destructive 
revolution should have been avoided ; that it was without 
sufficient justification, judged in the light of all moral laws 
relating to war. 

In view of this long array of facts, showing that the 
influence of the slavery interest had been dominant in the 
national councils from 1787 down to 1860, does it not seem 
that the states that had seceded, in the spring of 1861, should 
have waited until it could be known certainly whether the 

304 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

proposed amendment to the constitution would be ratified 
by a sufficient number of states, including the slave states, 
to become operative, and whether the Northern States 
would repeal their personal liberty acts ? Suppose the 
Southern States, through their conventions or legislatures, 
had solemnly, kindly and firmly said to their brethren of 
the North, as Mr. Stephens suggested: *'Our remaining 
in the Union, or returning to it, depends solely upon your 
giving us the new guaranty for the security of our slaves, 
and upon your repealing such laws as obstruct the com- 
plete execution of the fugitive slave laws." 

No one can say positively what the Northern people 
would have done in response to such a proposition, but 
in view of the earnest, indeed almost universal desire at 
that time in the North for the preservation of peace, and 
in favor of concession and conciliation, the chances are 
very great that the terms demanded would have been 
granted. Public opinion, it is believed, would have been 
so strongly in favor of such peace measures that it would 
have overwhelmed the Abolitionists everywhere except in 
New England. The differences between the North and 
the South should have been adjusted by generous con- 
cessions. The people of the two sections were brethren, 
and should have dwelt together in peace as they do now. 
Surely conciliation and compromise were better than a 
long and desolating war. The South was right as to the 
non-execution of the fugitive slave law, but in error in 
rushing into war without exhausting the last means of 

After the repeal immediately followed the last battle 
between freedom and slavery on the plains of Kansas, re- 
sulting in the defeat of the South. Henceforth there 
could be no more new slave states, unless Texas were 
divided as it was provided that it might be. But for the 
outburst of indignation caused by the repeal of the Mis- 
souri Compromise line, Kansas, under the decision in the 
Dred Scott case, might have become a slave state. But for 

Secession. 305 

that repeal New Mexico and Arizona might ultimately 
have been added to the slave states, if slaveholders had 
been bold enough to go there. But for that repeal, as I 
firmly believe, there would have been no civil war in 1861. 
It awoke and set aflame passions, prejudices and hatreds 
that could be cooled only by blood. But for it, slavery 
would almost certainly exist to-day in the Southern States 
as it did in 1861, with Abolitionists and Abolition societies 
still agitating. The South destroyed slavery when no 
other power on earth could have done so. The North 
opposed the great repeal, with an uprising against it like 
the gathering of a nation for war, and yet under its opera- 
tion it saw the South checked and driven back in its own 
chosen field of trial. The South demanded the repeal, and 
yet in a little while it saw, as the bitter fruit of that un- 
wise act, slavery perish and disappear forever from the 


306 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 



The real canses of aeoesBion— Antagonistic opinions between the North 
and the South— Divene interests— Difference in ways, thoughts, social 
tendencies, politics, religions, philosophy— The South oonservatiTe, the 
North progressiYe — ^The South finally came to hate the North— Mutual 
reproaches— Condition of the South described— Planters' contempt for 
Northern people— Two adverse systems of civilization — Mr. Iverson's 
speech— Loss of political power by the South— Incompatibility be- 
tween the two peoples assigned as a cause for separation— Secession 
long meditated— The desire for a new government founded on South- 
ern ideas the most powerful motive — Slavery to be the corner-stone- 
More slaves necessary— Slavery in no danger in 1861— Mr. Sherman's 
resolution— Mr. Lincoln's solemn assurances in his inaugural address- 
Independence out of the Union the object of Southern leaders— The 
border states hesitate — Something must be done— The blow is struck — 
Virginia and Tennessee wheel into line — Wisdom of Mr. Lincoln — 
Places the Confederacy in the wrong— Does not muster a man — Con- 
federacy probably would have succeeded but for the firing on Sumter 
— Feeling in the North at that time— Democratic party of the North 
in part responsible for the war— Abolition party responsible for a part 
of the blood shed — Certain free states violated the constitution in 
reference to the fugitive slave law— Passed nullifying laws— Mr. 
Stephens denies that these were sufficient alone to justify secession 
and war— People of the North ready for any concession— The contro- 
versy could and ought to have been settled — ^A single issue by the 
South— Too many issues— Exaggerations— The politician's war— Slave- 
holders at first generally opposed to it — A few men started secession — 
Character of Southern men— brave and honest— Tribute to Southern 

In the preceding chapter, I attempted to show that there 
was no justifiable ground for the attempted secession of 
the eleven Southern States in 1861, founded on any legis- 
lation or action of the national government in reference to 
the institution of slavery. It will be my purpose in this 
chapter to point out what were the real causes that induced 
a majority of the Southern people to embark in the scheme 
of setting up a new empire in the South. 

The Causes of Secession. 307 

For many years prior to 1861, the people of the North 
and of the South had been drifting further and further 
apart. This divergence related to nearly every question of 
the age — ^political, social, economic, and religious. Massa- 
chusetts was typical of the North and South Carolina of 
the South. Both were extreme. The South, in the course 
of time, came to dislike the Northern people — ^their ways, 
their thoughts, their social tendencies, their political opin- 
ions, their religions, their philosophy — ^with intense hatred. 
It had seen Massachusetts pass from the austere and 
gloomy faith of Jonathan Edwards, and sometimes, at an 
early date, from the most cruel practices in the name of 
religion, into the regions of speculation, sometimes border- 
ing on the very confines of unbelief. A part of its people 
had in two centuries passed from the most austere Calvin- 
ism to tenets of doubtful orthodoxy, from extreme narrow- 
ness to unrestrained liberality, from the simple philosophy 
of the fathers to a mystical transcendentalism. Many of 
its people, the descendants of slaveholders, had become 
the most bitter and fanatical of Abolitionists. They had 
abandoned many of the old land-marks which had made 
the Puritan fathers famous throughout the world, and set 
up new sign-posts. All this they called progress. The 
South Carolina of 1861, on the other hand, with the ex- 
ception of an evolution in political opinion, was the same 
it had been at the time of the formation of the govern- 
ment. In religion, the Presbyterianism of 1861 was the 
same the Covenanter fathers had taught in the days of 
colonial existence. The Methodists, the Baptists, and the 
Episcopalians were just the same in faith and practice 
that their fathers had been. This was called conservatism. 
Wild theories in these respects had gained no foothold 
there. The simple faith, practices and opinions of former 
days still prevailed in reference to religious, social and 
moral duties. 

Massachusetts had imported and owned, and had bought 
and sold slaves, and made great gain therein ; now slavery 

308 East Tennessee and the Civil War, 

was accursed of heaven, and every vestige of it must be 
removed from the land. South Carolina had remonstrated 
against the introduction of so many slaves into the state 
while it was a colony; now her statesmen demanded a 
larger number. 

The people of Massachusetts were a commercial and a 
manufacturing people. The inhabitants of the South 
were, on the contrary, for the most part, planters. In 
their estimation manual labor was more or less degrading. 
Operatives in New England factories were, as they alleged, 
the degraded serfs of the rich manufacturers — ^the mere 
* 'mud-sills of society" — ^wanting in manhood and sunk be- 
low the depth of Southern slaves. The upper class, the 
wealthy and the refined, were low in courage, mean in 
spirit, and altogether devoid of the high principle of a 
noble manhood. On the other hand, Massachusetts, with 
unctious satisfaction, looked upon the people of South 
Carolina as being outside of the pale of her elegant 
civilization and high advancement. And thus these two 
extremes looked at one another, each with supreme self 
satisfaction, mingled with more or less pity for the other. 
Bitter reproaches and stinging epithets were constantly 
hurled at each other. And thus it came to pass, in the 
course of time, that in the fierce struggles for personal and 
political power and sectional ascendency, these extremes 
began to hate each other as alien enemies. This feeling 
of bitterness was year by year augmented in the South as 
it saw the political power of the country slipping away 
from its grasp and passing securely into the hands of the 
North. The South, with marvelous natural advantages, 
was constantly falling further and further behind in 
wealth and population. Mr. Calhoun saw this in 1850, 
when he said the * 'issue of slavery should be forced on the 
North soon or it would be too late.'* 

But, while the North was capturing and organizing new 
states in the North-west, and extending its empire of 
thought to the Pacific, the South was slowly moving on 

The Causes of Secession. 309 

as it had done fifty years before. The negro and the mule 
were the two great factors in its growth, and they 
leisurely moved on in the old way. They tilled the fields 
and raised the cotton, the sugar, the rice and the tobacco 
on which all prosperity depended. Kentucky, Tennessee 
and the West furnished the mule, the corn, the hay and 
the bacon. Southern harbors were filled, for the most 
part, only with coasting vessels. The harbors and the 
great natural highways to a large extent remained unim- 
proved, because of the supersensitive scruples of Southern 
statesmen on constitutional questions. 

Free, universal education was unknown. The great 
body of the people were poorly educated, many not at all. 
The result was, that they were generally thriftless, nerve- 
less and non-progressive. As a rule, only the sons of 
wealthy men were thoroughly educated. The most promis- 
ing sons of the rich planters were sent to the University 
of Virginia, or to Princeton, or Yale, or West Point, to be 
educated for the bar or the army, with the hope of their 
ultimately going to congress or becoming governors or 
great generals, while some were educated for the ministry 
or for the profession of medicine. The army or a political 
life was thought to be the highway to honor. Many of the 
young men on the great plantations grew up with no 
definite aim, no high purpose. They frolicked, and played 
cards, and followed the yelping hounds; they '*sat down 
to eat and drink, and rose up to play.'* 

Manufacturing received but little encouragement*. It 
served to develop a spirit of independent thought among 
the operatives, inconsistent with the safety of slavery. 
Skilled laborers, especially of the higher grade, would 
read and think and talk. Slavery was naturally repug- 
nant to them, because it degraded them and their own 
labor. It tended to lower all laborers to the level of slaves. 
Trading was only tolerated as a necessity. Mining was 
almost unknown. The mechanic arts were only practiced 
in a small way. Planting and war were the only honor- 

310 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

able callings aside from the learned professions. Even the 
learned professions were considered inferior in dignity to 
the other two. The little land owners who cultivated their 
fields with their own hands did not rise into the honorable 
dignity of planters. They were farmers, laborers, "poor 
whites." Only the man with his broad acres, his drove of 
negroes, and his overseer was styled a planter. Without 
the appendage of an overseer — ^the most cruel and de- 
spicable of men — ^the position of no planter was high. The 
great planter was a man of power. He was courted and 
honored. The doors of society opened wide at his ap- 
proach. No wonder he became arrogant and haughty. 
Yet he possessed many noble qualities. He was brave, 
generous, magnanimous, sincere and honorable. Certainly 
in his day he had his good things — **was clothed in pur- 
ple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day." 

From the serene heights of his fancied exaltation, the 
great planter looked down with cold contempt on the large 
body of Northern men. He regarded them as little tillers 
of the soil, petty traders, low shop-keepers, enslaved me- 
chanics, howling fanatics and lovers of money. They 
were mean in spirit, cowardly, narrow, selfish and abased. 
Mammon was their Grod. If they gave to objects of 
charity, it was on a cold calculation that they would get 
back in some way two dollars for every one given. The 
operatives in factories were the slaves of the lordly manu- 
facturers, with fewer comforts than the bondsmen of the 

In thought, taste, feelings and habits there was a wide 
antagonism between the people of North and those of the 
cotton belt. This antagonism naturally grew out of two 
adverse systems of labor, two adverse systems of educa- 
tion, two adverse systems of civilization. There was, in 
fact, as Mr. Seward said, an "irrepressible conflict between 
opposing and enduring forces." 

In the foregoing facts is found one of the potent causes 
which induced the Southern States to raise the standard of 

The Causes of Secession. 311 

secession. The leaders hated the Abolitionists and the 
anti-slavery men with a feeling of the deepest intensity. 
They hated Northern ways, habits, opinions and institu- 
tions. From them they had long since wished to be 
divorced. And little less in intensity was the feeling of 
the Abolitionists toward Southern slaveholders. Mr. 
Iverson, of (Georgia, on leaving the senate in 1861, said : 

* 'Besides, he claimed that there was an enmity between 
the Northern and Southern people, that was deep and 
enduring, and which could not be eradicated. We have 
not lived in peace, we are not now living in peace. It is 
not expected or hoped that we shall ever live in peace.*' 

At the end of six decades, it became manifest to the 
sagacious statesmen of the South that they could no longer 
exercise a controlling influence in the councils of the na- 
tion. They became desperate at the thought. The exer- 
cise of power had been their birthright. A government 
which tJiey could not control became hateful to them. 
They, therefore, sought for pretexts for its destruction. 
In the presidential election of 1860, by dividing the party, 
and thus securing the election of Mr. Lincoln, they made 
and used the pretext they most desired. 

The loss of political power on the part of the South was 
one of the main impelling causes of secession. For three 
quarters of the time since the organization of the govern- 
ment, its control had been virtually in the hands of South- 
em men. Now, this control had fallen into other hands 
and the chances were that it would never return. The 
political ascendency of the South — ^that great, supreme 
power which had dominated at will presidents, cabinets 
and legislatures — ^had passed away forever. To become 
subordinate in authority to men they despised as their in- 
feriors, was more than these proud-spirited men could en- 
dure. Some of them had long seen the end of their power 
approaching. They had been preparing for secession. 
Mr. Calhoun had advised it, Mr. Davis had urged it. Mr. 
Yancey had suggested the organization of * 'committees of 

312 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

safety all over the cotton states/' and in that way, said he^ 
^'we shall fire the Southern heart, instruct the Southern 
mind, give courage to each other, and at the proper mo- 
ment, by one organized, concerted action, we can pre- 
cipitate the cotton states into a revolution.*'* This was in 
June, 1858, more than two years before the election of Mr. 

In a tract. No. 3, published at Charleston, in 1860, ad- 
dressed to 'Hhe people of the South," intended to aid the 
cause of secession, the writer says : 

*'It is a great mistake to assign the election of Lincoln as 
the CAUSB for a disruption of the Federal government. It 
is but the occasion. The cavse existed, perhaps at the for- 
mation of the Confederacy. The cause consists in the in- 
compatibility growing out of the two systems of labor, 
crystallizing about them two forms of civilization — from 
which has sprung, if not conflicting interests, antipathies 
at least, instead of sympathies. In one sense the 'irre- 
pressible conflict' is real. Froln time to time the pre-exist- 
ing cause has presented occasions of strife. 

''Since that time (the race of Fremont in 1856) the 
Black Republicans have obtained possession of the house 
of representatives, elected its speaker and appointed its 
committees. And now, in 1860, they elect, as President of 
the United States, a man who is at open war with the in- 
stitutions of the South, and the chosen representative of 
the principles, the doctrines and the feelings of the (New 
York) 'Tribune ! ' These are all occasions forced on us by 
the underlying cause of incompatibiliy." 

Again, this same tract No. 3, dwelling on this same idea 
of incompatibility, says : 

"The colonial condition is, at best, one of pupilage, de- 
pendence and inferiority, and is degrading to such a 
people as that described by Senator Hammond. But when 
the people who govern are hostile ; when the bond of 

^ Letter to Jas. S. Slaaghter. 

The Causes of Secession. 313 

union of the dominant party, of the governing people, is 
enmity and active antagonism to the mode of labor and 
social organization of the people governed, then, foreign 
rule assumes its most dangerous form. If, however, 
political hostility has been intensified into religious hate, 
and to enmity and antagonism are added scorn and con- 
tempt ; if the dominant people have been taught to despise, 
to deride and sco£f the weakness of the governed, then 
their cup of abjectness is full to the brim." 

In the Convention of South Carolina, which passed the 
Ordinance of Secession, Mr. Rhett said: '*It (secession) 
is nothing produced by Mr. Lincoln's election, or the non- 
execution of the fugitive slave law. It is a matter that 
has been gathering for thirty years.*' 

Mr. Packer, of the same body, said : *'It is no spasmodic 
e£fort that has come suddenly on us, but it has been gradu- 
ally culminating for a long series of years." 

Mr. Ingles said: **Most of us have had this subject 
tmder consideration for twenty years." 

Mr. Eeitt said : *'! have been engaged in this movement 
ever since I entered public life." 

Senator Iverson, in withdrawing, as we have seen, said : 
**Por myself, imless my opinions greatly change, I shall 
never consent to the reconstruction of the Federal Union. 
. . . We are about to sunder our relations with that section 
(the North) , and I trust forever." 

One of the motives that influenced the leaders in the 
great Southern revolution in 1861 was the desire to estab- 
lish in the South a magnificent confederacy of slaveholding 
states, constructed on their own views as to its powers and 
duties, with a homogeneous people, that is to say, with 
one class to rule and a subject class to labor. This was a 
scheme of vaulting ambition, magnificent in conception 
and dazzling in promise. It was to be an aristocratic gov- 
ernment. We have seen that Mr. Stephens claimed that 
slavery was the corner-stone of our institutions. Governor 
McDuffie declared on this point ; 

314 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

*' Domestic slavery, iustead of being an evil, is the cor- 
ner-stone of our republican edifice, because it supersedes 
the necessity of an order of nobility, and all the other ap- 
pendages of a hereditary system of government/'* 

Senator Hammond, of South Carolina, said in the senate 
in 1858, as before shown : 

*'In all social systems, there must be a class to do the 
menial duties, to perform the drudgery of life ; that is, a 
class requiring a low order of intellect and but little skill. 
Its requisites are vigor, docility, and fidelity. Such a 
class you must have, or you would not have that other 
class which leads to progress, civilization and refinement.'' 

Further on in his speech Senator Hammond said that 
the ** South found a race adapted to that purpose to her 
hand — ^the African slaves," 

In a speech made in Charleston, November 12, 1860, Mr. 
B. Barnwell Rhett said : 

**The Southern Confederacy ought to be a slaveholding 
Confederacy. It is no experiment that free governments 
should exist in slaveholding coimtries. The republics of 
Rome and Greece — still the light and glory of ancient 
times — ^were built on domestic slavery. But it is an ex- 
periment to maintain free government with universal suf- 
frage, and the whole population to control the government. 
Population increases faster than capital, and no prosperity 
can long stave o£f the dire conflict which must arise be- 
tween want and a£9uence, capital and population. When 
the great majority of the population have no property, 
which is the case in Europe, what shall protect property 
under the control of this majority from partition or confis* 
cation? Our Confederacy must be a slaveholding Confed- 
eracy. We have had enough of a Confederacy with dis- 
similar institutions." 

Mr. Rhett was the great prophet of hope for the new 
Confederacy. Gazing into the future, his fancy kindled 

1 Bryant's " Pop. Hist U. 8.," Vol. IV, p. 323. 

The Causes of Secession. 316 

and glowed with exultant pride as he beheld it expanding 
and extending its conquests southward. In his fervor he 
declared : 

*'With guarantees such as these, what shall prevent the 
people of the South from being a great and free people? 
We will expand, as our growth and civilization shall de- 
mand, over Mexico, over the isles of the sea, over the far- 
o£f Southern tropics, until we shall establish a great con- 
federation of republics — ^the greatest, the freest, and most 
powerful the world has ever seen/' 

Mr. Alexander Stephens, the calmest of all Southern 
statesmen, spoke as follows on this subject, in a speech in 
Savannah, in March, 1861, a few weeks after the inaugura- 
tion of the Southern Confederacy : 

**Our new government is founded upon exactly the op- 
I)Osite idea (^. e., to that held by Mr. Je£ferson and most 
of the leading statesmen of his day, that slavery was 
wrong in principle) ; its foundations are laid, its comer- 
stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal 
to the white man ; that slavery — subordination to the su- 
perior race — ^is his natural and normal condition. This 
stone, which was rejected by the first builders, is become 
the chief of the comer, the real comer-stone in our new 

Along with the idea of a Southern Confederacy ran the 
idea of repealing all laws prohibiting the African slave 
trade. If a government was to be established, resting on 
domestic slavery, then, manifestly, the more slaves,' at 

^ Of this address, Prof. W. P. Trent says: 

" Mr. Stephens forgot to mention the trifling circomstance that the Bar- 

bary States iiad long existed on the basis of a physical, philosophical and 

moral tmth, strikingly similar to the one enunciated by himself, and it 

would have been perhaps a service to his auditors had he utilized, for the 

purpose of clinching his proposition, the well-known lines of tiie poet 


' The good old plan. 

That they should take who have the power. 

And they should keep who can/ " 

— " Southern Statesmen," p. 287. 

316 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

least for a tiine, the better. Mr. Stephens did not openlj 
advocate a repeal of those laws, but he intimated such an 
idea by saying that the South could not keep up the race 
with the North in the occupation of new territory *' unless 
they could get more Africans."^ Mr. John Forsythe, of 
Alabama, openly advocated the abrogation of the prohibi- 
tion. Mr. W. L. Yancey demanded the repeal of these 
laws. Governor Adams, of South Carolina, denounced 
them as a fraud on slaveholders. In the Southern Com- 
mercial Convention, at Knoxville, in 1857, Mr. L. W. 
Spratt, of South Carolina, editor of the ^'Charleston 
Courier*' (I believe) said, in a carefully prepared address 
on a proposition to reopen the African slave trade : 

'* Society in its movements has vindicated the truth that 
more than equality is necessary to human progress. There 
was the patrician and plebeian of old Rome, the peasant 
and the peer of France, and the contact and the collision 
between them made those countries great. England has 
been made great from the same cause. And though among 
equals, inequality is wrong ; though for the reason that 
the peer was no better than the peasant, the peer has 
fallen and the peasant has risen ; still society also teaches 
the great truth that inequality is necessary to human 
progress. That is a greater truth than was declared in 
the Declaration of Independence. That instnmient was 
founded upon a misconception, and we now proclaim this 
truth in opposition to pre-conception." * 

Mr. Womack, of Alabama, said he thought the **proposi- 
tion a very reasonable one. ' ' He believed there was • *noth- 
ing more right in the economy of man" than slavery. Mr. 
Goggerty (perhaps Goggin), of Virginia, said, **the open- 
ing of the African slave trade is required by the whole 
world." Mr. Lochrane, of Georgia, said: "I believe the 
re-opening of the African slave trade is proper, just, ex- 
pedient and constitutional." 

*• » Blaine's " Twenty Years of Congress," Vol. I, p. 175. 
' Official Report, pp. 90, 9' 

The Causes of Secession. 317 

The foregoing utterances of Southern men disclose in 
the most convincing manner the leading motives which in- 
fluenced the Southern leaders in undertaking the estab- 
lishment of a Southern Confederacy. Of these, the most 
powerful, as it always has been, in revolutionary move- 
ments, was personal ambition. There was something 
peculiarly fascinating to bold, ambitious men in the 
thought of forming a great slaveholding confederacy, em- 
bracing fifteen states over which they would bear sway ; 
with an aristocratic class to support their authority ; with 
cotton, the greatest wealth-producing staple the world has 
ever known, as the basis of unparalleled prosperity, and 
with an obedient, servile race to perform all labor, and 
minister to the comfort and the wants of this superior 
class as long as governments should last. Of course this 
motive was concealed — ^was masked behind the most earn- 
est protestations and profuse professions of patriotism. 
Every conceivable excuse was given to justify this scheme 
of vaulting ambition, every one of which was more or less 
baseless, except one. 

We have seen that secession was not the offspring of any 
fear of the abolition of slavery by the national govern- 
ment, nor from any apprehension of Mr. Lincoln, nor on 
account of the non-execution of the fugitive slave law, nor 
because of the personal liberty acts, nor because of the 
alleged exclusion of slavery from the territories, nor be- 
cause of any want of the equality of the Southern States 
in the Union, nor indeed from any well-grounded appre- 
hension of danger to the institution of slavery from any 
quarter or from any source. 

There was no danger of the abolition of slavery in 
1860-1, and all intelligent men knew that fact. 

On the 11th of February, 1861, on motion of Mr. John 
Sherman, the leading Republican in the house, the follow- 
ing resolution was unanimously adopted by that body — 
yeas, 161 ; nays, none : 

^'Resolved, that neither congress, nor the people, nor the 

318 East Tennessee and the Cvoil War. 

govemments of the non-slaveholding states, have any con- 
stitutional right to interfere with slavery in any of the 
slaveholding states of the Union." 

The doctrine contained in this resolution was in perfect 
accord with the opinions of Mr. Lincoln, as they had been 
declared by him on many occasions. In 1858, in his debate 
with Mr. Douglas in reply to a question by the latter, he 
declared that if the people of a territory were to do such 
an amazing thing as to form a constitution favorable to 
slavery, if elected senator, he would vote for the admission 
of such state into the Union. 

In addition to all these facts showing that secession was 
not the result of any honest fear as to the security of 
slavery, in the states where it then existed, the solemn 
declaration of Mr. Lincoln in his inaugural address may be 
quoted. He said, in reference to the proposed thirteenth 
amendment to the constitution prohibiting congress from 
interfering with slavery in the states, that holding such 
proposition to be now implied in the constitution, he had 
no objection to its being made express and irrevocable. 
He recognized, as he had always done, the constitutional 
obligation for the return of fugitive slaves. His whole 
address was an earnest plea for the maintenance of the 

He said further, in his inaugural address: *'I declare 
that I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere 
with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists. 
I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no 
inclination to do so." And, after quoting from the Chi- 
cago platform words of a similar import, he said : *'I only 
press on the public attention the most conclusive evidence 
of which the case is susceptible— that the property, peace 
and security of no section are to be in any wise endan- 
gered by the incoming administration." 

**In your hands," said he, imploringly, **my dissatisfied 
fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous 
issue of civil war. The government will not assail you ; 

The Cauaes of Secession. 819 

you can have no conflict without being yourselves the ag- 

In beautiful words and in kind affection, scarcely ever 
surpassed, with one hand on the Bible and the other up- 
lifted to heaven, he appealed for peace. **We are not en- 
emies," said he, **but friends. Though passion may have 
strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The 
mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle 
field and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearth- 
stone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of 
the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by 
the better angels of our nature." 

If further proof were needed to show that a sense of the 
insecurity of slavery in the states where it then existed 
could not have been paramount in the minds of the seces- 
sion leaders, in 1860-61, the fact may be mentioned that, 
in the speeches of senators and representatives withdraw- 
ing from congress, none of them based their action dis- 
tinctly on this ground. In all their boldness in the use of 
high-sounding rhetoric at that time, none of them pre- 
tended that the existence of slavery was seriously threat- 
ened or endangered. Some complaint was made about the 
personal liberty bills passed in the Northern States. Some 
complaint was also made that slavery was excluded from 
the territories by the people thereof, but this was well 
known to the leaders and to every one else to be in accord- 
ance with the doctrine they had formerly advocated in ref- 
erence to the people of Kansas while that state was in a 
territorial condition. It was the fruit of Mr. Douglas' 
''Popular Sovereignty," which nearly every one of tiiese 
secession leaders had either voted for or advocated. 

But the solemn assurances and tender appeals of the 
president to his * 'dissatisfied fellow countrymen" had no 
effect. Independence out of the Union was the object of 
Southern ambition. A new Confederacy was the prede- 
termined fact ; was then in existence, in reality, with South 

320 East Tennessee and the CivU War. 

Carolina, Greorgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louis- 
iana, Arkansas and Texas as its members. But this was 
not enough. It fell far short of the wide extended do- 
minion originally contemplated. Virginia still held back, 
North Carolina still hesitated, Tennessee rejected the al- 
liance by an immense majority, Kentucky still clung to 
the Union, and Missouri remained steadfast in its loyalty. 
Something had to be done to move the people of these states 
into line with their Southern sisters. Major Anderson 
with a small garrison still held Fort Sumter. Along the 
shores, on every available spot, batteries had been erected, 
and bristling guns bore on the fort. An army was assem- 
bled in Charleston under the command of (Jeneral P. G. T. 

Early in April, Roger A. Pryor, a member of congress 
from Virginia, and Edmund Buffin, of the same state, vis- 
ited Charleston to aid in pushing forward the great work 
of secession. On the evening of the 10th of April, Pryor 
was serenaded, and made one of his fiery speeches, much 
of which has been quoted already. He said : 

*'Do not distrust Virginia. As sure as to-morrow's sun 
will rise upon us. Just so sure will Virginia be a member 
of the Southern Confederacy. And I will tell you, gentle- 
men,'* said the speaker, with great vehemence, **what will 
put her in the Southern Confederacy in less than an hour 
by Shrewsbury's clock — strike a blowl The very moment 
that blow is struck. Old Virginia will make common cause 
with her sisters of the South. It is impossible she should 
do otherwise." 

Says Lossing, from whom the above is taken : **The cry 
of Pryor for blood was sent to Montgomery by telegraph 
the next morning, and Mr. Gilchrist, a member of the 
Alabama legislature, said to Davis and a portion of his 
^'cabinet" (Walker, Benjamin and Menninger): **Gentle- 
men, unless you sprinkle blood in the face of the people of 

The Causes of Secession. 321 

Alabama, they will be back in the old Union in less than 
ten days."* 

It is evident from the correspondence in existence that 
Beauregard was ordered, from Montgomery, to demand 
the immediate eyacuation of Fort Sumter, for, on the 11th 
day of April, he was telegraphed to, to send the reply of 
Major Anderson. On the same day, Beauregard answered, 
sending the reply to the demand, as follows : 

**To L. P. Walker: 

''Major Anderson replies: *I have the honor to ac- 
knowledge the receipt of your communication demanding 
the evacuation of this fort, and to say in reply thereto 
that it is a demand with which I regret that my sense of 
honor and of my obligation to my government prevents my 
compliance.' He adds verbally: *I will await the first 
shot, and if you do not batter us to pieces we will be 
starved out in a few days.' Answer. 

(Signed,) P. G. T. Bbauregabd." 

The garrison in Fort Sumter was then living on salt 
pork and water. There was no concealment of the fact 
anywhere that the garrison must surrender or evacuate soon, 
imless supplies arrived. But the impatient public — ^the 
impatient authorities of Montgomery — ^would not wait for 
the slow work of starvation. "A blow" must be struck — 
* 'blood" must be "sprinkled in the face of the people." 
Accordingly, on the twelfth of April, a venerable old man, 
Edmund Buffin from Virginia, who had requested the 
privilege, pulled the lanyard of the first gun fired in the 
greatest civil war recorded in history, the mournful sound 
of which went echoing over the sea and over the land, 
breaking the peace of the world. 

And thus were verified the kind words of Abraham 
Lincoln, spoken with the oath of office still warm upon his 
lips: "The government will not assail you. You can 

* " Civil War in America," by Benson J. Loesing, Vol. I, p. 316. 

322 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors." 
And he had kept his faith. Not a soldier had he mustered 
during these more than five weeks of busy preparations 
for war in the South. Not one drop of fraternal blood 
should be shed by him, except in defense — ^in the defense 
of the government. And not one drop of the rivers of 
blood that were shed in the great civil war which followed 
stained the garments of the great president. 

On the 8th of April the governor of South Carolina re- 
ceived a notification from Mr. Lincoln that an attempt 
would be made to provision Fort Sumter, and on the 9th 
the *' Harriet Lane" sailed from New York fortius pur- 
pose.^ In his message to congress Mr. Lincoln thus com- 
ments on the attack on Sumter : 

*'The assault upon and reduction of Fort Sumter was in 
no sense a matter of self-defense on the part of the assail- 
ants. They well knew that the garrison in the fort could 
by no possibility commit aggression upon them. They 
knew — ^they were expressly notified — ^that the giving of 
bread to the few brave and hungry men of the garrison was 
all which would on that occasion be attempted, unless them- 
selves, by resisting so much, should provoke more. They 
knew that this government desired to keep the garrison in 
the fort not to assail them, but merely to maintain visible 
possession and thus to preserve the Union from actual and 
immediate dissolution — ^trusting, as hereinbefore stated, to 
time, discussion and the ballot-box for final adjustment, 
and they assailed and reduced the fort for precisely the 
reverse object — ^to drive out the visible authority of the 
Federal Union and thus drive it to immediate dissolu- 
tion." . . . 

^ Some time previonsly to thiB, Mr. Seward, assaming that he was the 
head of the government, had said to the commiBsioners of South Carolina, 
through an agent, that Sumter would be evacuated. There is no proof 
that this partial promise was ever communicated to Mr. Lincoln.— Ida M. 
TarbelVs " Life of Lincoln " in " McClure's Magazine/' January 1899, 
page 267. 

The Causes of Secession. 828 

With this avowed purpose on the part of Mr. Idncoliiy 
which he carefully pursued, it may afford a curious theme 
for speculation as to what would have been the fate of the 
Southern Confederacy if Sumter had not been assaulted, 
or if some similar act of open war had not been resorted 
to. Would it have gone on exercising the powers of gov- 
ernment over the states which had seceded imtil its au- 
thority had become securely cemented and established? 
Would Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina have 
joined the seceded states? Sooner or later this is most 
probable. Would the people of the North have acquiesced 
in this dismemberment of the government? Yes, at that 
time, in preference to civil war. In this very contingency 
such men as Greeley, Seward, Thurlow Weed and Critten- 
den, and thousands of others, if they did not all say, as 
Mr. Greeley did, let the cotton states **go in peace,*' they 
did all insist in spirit that there should be no coercion to 
restrain them from going. Previous to this time. Ex- 
president Pierce had written to Jefferson Davis, assuring 
him that if there was to be fighting **it will not be along 
Mason's and Dixon's line merely. It will be within our 
own borders, in our own streets, between the two classes 
of citizens to whom I have referred." **The Albany 
Argus," a Democratic paper said: **The first gun fired 
in the way of forcing a seceding state back into the 
Union would probably prove the knell of its final dis- 

All over the North there was alarm and apprehension 
after six states had seceded. Bitter indignation was 
aroused against the anti-slavery agitators. The sentiment 
against coercion and in favor of conciliation seemed to be 
almost universal, (xovemor Horatio Seymour said : * * Shall 
we have compromise after war, or compromise without war? 
Let us also see if successful coercion by the North is less 
revolutionary than successful revolution by the South." 
James S. Thayer said amid cheers, in a public meeting in 
Albany, that ^Hhe enforcement of the law in six states 

324 East Terme$$ee and the Civil War, 

(the number that had then seceded) , is war with fifteen. 
Let one arrow, winged by the Federal bow, strike the 
heart of an American citizen, and who can number the 
avenging darts that will darken the heayens in the conflict 
that will ensue." Fernando Wood, mayor of the City of 
New York, suggested in a message to the common council, 
that the mxmicipality should be made a **free city." *'It 
was a proposition openly entertained and freely talked 
about," says Mr. Henry Wilson, **should a separation 
take place and a new confederation be formed, that not only 
the city, but the State of New York, the other Middle States, 
indeed all the Northern States, except New England 
and some in the extreme North-west, would forsake the 
old and go to the new." A Washington dispatch, pub- 
lished in the New York papers, in December, said : **The 
opinion seems to set strongly in f ayor of a reconstruction 
of the Union, without the New England States."^ 

Ex-Governor Price, of New Jersey, in a published letter, 
urged that his state should **go with the South from every 
wise, prudential and patriotic reason." So strong was the 
feeling in the North in the winter of 1860-1861, in favor 
of the South, and against any attempt at coercion, so bitter 
were the people against the Abolitionists, that Mr. Wilson 
does not hesitate to say that the North as well as the South 
is responsible for secession ; and that if the latter ''had not 
found auxiliaries out of the North ready to lend their aid, 
they would never have ventured in the rash experiment."* 

So high was the tide of public opinion running, at the 
time of the inauguration of Mr. Lincoln, against the party 
that had elevated him to power, especially against the Aboli- 
tion part of it, that it is almost certain that any attempt at 
coercion against the people of the seceding states, would 
have been followed in the North by mobs, riots and civil 
war. Mr. Lincoln saw and knew the hazardous condition of 
affairs around him. He knew that a blow prematurely 

1 Wilson's " Rise and Fall," etc., Vol. Ill, p. 67. » Id. p. 70. 

Th4 Causes of Secession. 326 

struck at seceBsion was more likely to produce a revolution 
in the North than to end the existing one. In addition to 
his earnest desire to ayoid the shedding of blood, there was 
necessary on his part the most cautious statesmanship. A 
single false step would proye fatal to the Union. He must 
so act as to put the South clearly in the wrong before the 
world in the eyent of a conflict of arms. There must be 
no divided North. He delayed, apparently hesitated, and 
seemingly negotiated with the enemy. He refused to re- 
enforce Sumter, and only attempted to send provisions to 
the starving garrison. No troops were mustered for the 
national defense, not one ; no force was used ; no threats 
were made. Never did Mr. Lincoln exhibit a more masterly 
wisdom, or profounder sagacity than in this crisis. By his 
discretion, secession came to a standstill. The North was 
petrified with fear. A majority had turned with rage 
against the triumphant party. In the South there was 
danger, as Mr. Gilchrist said, that some of the states would 
return to the old Union. 

And now came the stupendous folly of firing on Sumter. 
That single act, in **one hour by Shrewsbury's clock*' 
united the divided North. Without that, or some equally 
foolish deed, the North could never have been brought to 
the point of resisting the South, and secession would have 
triumphed. But when the nation's honor was assailed, 
and the national flag brought low, sympathy was in a mo- 
ment turned to wrath, and men everywhere rushed to 
arms. That first shot, as it went sounding round the 
world, announcing the commencement of the conflict, was 
also sounding the death knell of the Southern Confederacy, 
But for that shot, it might be in existence to-day as a gov- 
ernment. But it accomplished its purpose in the direc- 
tion intended. By it, Tennessee, Virginia and North 
Carolina were induced, most unwisely but most naturally, 
to rush to the help, not of the aggrieved party, but of the 
aggressor. But it did more than this — something not an- 
ticipated. It lost to the South, Delaware, Maryland, West 

1 • 

326 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

Virginia, East Tennessee, Kentucky and Missouri. And 
still more ; by this needless act, the North was brought to- 
gether in one hour as one man in the determination to 
avenge the nation's insult, and to lift up and restore the 
fallen and dishonored flag. Thus Mr. Davis by that shot 
did what no other power on earth could have done — ^united 
the divided North. 

But Mr. Wilson is unquestionably correct when he said 
that in **the day when inquisition for blood shall be 
made," the North as well as the South will be found to 
have had its share in the bringing on of the war of 1861. 
The assurances given by such men as Pierce, Price, Wood 
and Seymour, that there was a ''Spartan band in every 
Northern state," who would stand as a wall of fire for the 
defense of the South against the madness of Northern Abo- 
litionism, and that there were a million of Democrats there 
who would aid the South in such a fight, had great influ- 
ence in finally emboldening the leaders to go to war. Mr. 
Wilson refers, of course, to the Democratic party of the 
North. He is clearly correct. Up to a certain point, they 
were as much responsible for the civil war as the Demo- 
cratic party of the South. Perhaps they were more so, for 
they had in their favor no palliating circumstances, such 
as the South had. But there was, as previously stated, 
another party that must be held responsible before the tri- 
bunal of history for a share of the blood shed in the great 
civil war. That was the Abolition party. For years they 
had denounced the slaveholders with an acrimony seldom 
equaled. They made war on the peculiar institution of 
the South, and avowed a determination to overthrow and 
destroy it. They nullified a law passed for its protection, 
and appealed to a * 'higher law" for their justification. 
In their insane opposition to slavery, they placed them- 
selves outside of the law, and were, as Mr. Webster said, 
guilty of * 'treasonable conduct." By their acts and their 
words, they goaded to madness the Southern people, and 
drove them in the direction of secession. Finally, a part 

The Causes of Secession. 327 

of the Southern people came to hate their assailants in the 
North with such a depth of intensity, and there came to 
be such an antagonism in interests, opinions, institutions 
and habits, that separation seemed to them the only rem- 
edy left. In their madness and blindness, they rushed 
into secession and into war. I draw a broad line of dis- 
tinction between the Abolitionists, who wished to destroy 
slavery in the South, and the Free-soilers, who wished 
merely to restrict it to the states where it then existed. 
But this distinction was not always, nor, indeed, generally, 
drawn in the South. The extreme Abolitionists were 
taken as the types of Northern sentiment, and the most 
conservative Free-soilers were classed with them. 

It really appears as if Providence intended that the 
Southern people should be the instruments of the destruc- 
tion of their own favorite institution. At a period when 
there was, for the first time in twenty years, peace between 
the two sections, they broke that peace by the repeal of 
the Missouri Compromise, and thus turned loose the angry 
winds of sectionalism. This in the end, through successive 
steps, led to secession. And when war came, the convic- 
tion gradually grew on the minds of men that that was the 
opportunity offered by Heaven for destroying slavery. It 
had caused one war, said they ; it should not cause another. 
Let it perish — ^by the war. And thus the folly of men was 
made to do the will of God. 

I have said that secession and the civil war were without 
justifiable cause, when viewed in the light of facts and 
history, except in a qualified degree as to one or two ques- 
tions. It is undeniably true — and it is time that history 
should be candid on the subject — that previous to 1861 a 
number of the free states had failed to perform their consti- 
tutional obligations to the slave states in reference to the 
return of fugitive slaves. Indeed, it is hard, if not impossi- 
ble, to escape the conclusion that they had openly and de- 
fiantly violated in this regard both the letter and the spirit 
of the constitution. The rescue of the slave Shadrack by 

328 East Tennessee cmd the Civil War. 

a mob in Boston was an open yiolation of the constitution , 
and Mr. Webster declared it to be an act of "clear trea- 
son." The attempt, in the same city, to rescue Anthony 
Bums, and the attack made on the United States marshal 
by an armed mob in the attempt, were clearly of the same 
character. If it should be said or thought that these were 
the hasty acts of excited mobs, then what can be said in 
defense of the legislature of Vermont — ^a deliberative 
body — ^when it passed the following act : 

**Every person who may have been held as a slave, who 
shall come or may be brought into this state, with the 
consent of his master or mistress, or who sImU came or be 
brought, or sJiaU be in this state, shaU be free. 

''Every person who shall hold, or attempt to hold^ in this 
state, in slavery, as a slave, any free person, in any form, 
or for any time, however short, under the pretense that 
such person is or has been a slave, shall, on conviction 
thereof, be imprisoned in the state prison for a term of not 
less than five years, nor more than twenty, and be fined 
not less than one thousand dollars nor more than ten thou- 
sand dollars." 

What became, under this law, of the constitution of the 
United States, and of the laws made in pursuance thereof, 
requiring the rendition to their owners of slaves escaping 
into other states? Unquestionably, they were nullified 
and openly defied. Laws similar to this, as we have seen 
in Chapter XII, were passed by a number of the Northern 

Now, were these laws, fiagrant and unconstitutional as 
they certainly were, sufficient to justify, without more, the 
slave states in inaugurating war against the United States ? 
I shall let Alexander H. Stephens, the ablest defender of 
the Southern Confederacy, answer this question. In his 
masterly Union speech before the legislature of Georgia, 
on the 14th of November, 1861, speaking on this very 
point, he said : ^ 

1 tt 

War Between the States." pp. 294-298. 

The Carues of Secession. 329 

''N0W9 upon another point, and that the most difficult, 
and deserving your most serious consideration, I will speak. 
That is the course which this state should pursue toward 
these Northern States which, by their legislative acts, have 
attempted to nullify the Fugitive Slave Law. 

''Northern States, on entering into the federal compact, 
pledged themselves to surrender such fugitives ; and it is 
in disregard of their constitutional obligations that they 
have passed laws which even tend to hinder or inhibit the 
fulfillment of that obligation. They have violated their 
plighted faith. What ought we to do in view of this? 
That is the question. What is to be done? By the law of 
nations, you would have the right to demand the carrying 
out of this article of agreement, and I do not see that it 
should be otherwise in respect to the states of the Union ; 
and in case it be not done, we would, by these principles, 
have the right to commit acts of reprisal on these faithless 
governments, and seize upon their property, or that of 
their citizens, wherever found. The states of this Union 
stand upon the same footing with foreign nations in this 

''Suppose it were Great Britain that had violated some 
compact of agreement with the general government— what 
would be first done? In that case, our ministers would 
be directed, in the first instance, to bring the matter to the 
attention of that government, or a commissioner be sent 
to that country to open negotiations with her, ask for re- 
dress, and it would be only after argument and reason had 
been exhausted in vain, that we would take the last resort of 
nations. That would be the course toward a foreign govern- 
ment ; and toward a member of this Confederacy, I would 
recommend the same course. Let us not, therefore, act 
hastily or ill-temperedly in this matter. Let your commit- 
tee on the state of the republic make out a bill of griev- 
ances; let it be sent by the governor to these faithless 
states ; and, if reason and argument shall be tried in vain — 
if all shall fail to induce them to return to their constitu- 

330 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

tional obligations, I would be for retaliatory measures, 
such as the governor has suggested to you. This mode of 
resistance in the Union is in our power. • • . 

'*As to the other matter, I think we have a right to pass 
retaliatory measures, provided they be in accordance with 
the constitution of the United States, and I think they can 
be made so. But, whether it would be wise for this legis- 
lature to do so now, is a question. To the convention, in 
my judgment, this matter ought to be referred. Before 
making reprisals, we should exhaust every means of bring- 
ing about a peaceful settlement of the controversy. Thus 
did Greneral Jackson in the case of the French. . . • 

**I do think, therefore, that it would be best, before 
going to extreme measures with the Confederate States, to 
make the presentation of our demands, to appeal to their 
reason and judgment, to give us our rights. Then, if rea- 
son should not triumph, it will be time enough to make re- 
prisals, and we should be justified in the eyes of a civil- 
ized world. At least, let these offending and derelict states 
know what your grievances are, and if they refuse, as I 
said, to give us our rights under the constitution, I should 
be willing, as a last resort, to sever the ties of our Union 
with them." 

Mr. Stephens went on to say that his own opinion was 
that if the course indicated by him were pursued, and the 
North were informed of the consequence of refusal on their 
part to do justice to the South, those states would recede, 
would repeal their nullifying acts. * 

So strong were the prejudices of men in the South in 
in 1861, on both sides; so blinding were the passions 
aroused by the great controversy, that but few men were 
able to calmly and dispassionately consider both sides of 
the questions involved. In the whirl and violence of po- 
litical opinions, men jumped to certain conclusions, and 
never departed from them, however erroneous. Thus, for 

* "War Between the States," Vol. II, pp. 29^ et$eq. 

The Causes of Secession. 331 

illustration, the Union leaders were amazed at the many 
errors which prevailed among Southern people, overlook- 
ing the fact that they were themselves blind to certain as- 
pects of the questions then dividing the country. It is cer- 
tain that neither Mr. Johnson, nor Mr. Nelson, who were in 
many respects the two most conspicuous Union orators in 
the South, nor any other leader, ever dealt entirely frankly 
with the two just grievances of slaveholders — ^that in ref- 
erence to the nullification of the Fugitive Slave Law by 
certain Northern States, and that of the forcible rescue of 
slaves by combinations of anti-slavery men. 

After a calm review of the whole controversy, and with 
the moderating influence of thirty-eight years upon my 
mind, candor compels me to say that the slaveholding 
states had at least these two strong points in their favor in 
1861, "which if they had been eahiestly presented to the 
North by solemn remonstrance, as Mr. Stephens recom- 
mended, if their remonstrance had been rejected, would 
have constituted a just ground for reprisals, if not for war. 
"Without an honest effort, however, to obtain a redress of 
grievances, through a distinguished embassy — ^without an 
effort in the direction of compromise and conciliation — I 
insist, as I have done throughout this book, that there was 
no sufficient justification of the South in commencing hos- 
tilities, especially against the Federal government, which 
had not inflicted these wrongs. 

T^ie constitution of the United States provides no specific 
remedy against states thus failing and refusing to perform 
their solemn obligations to the citizens of other states, un- 
less it is the right on the part of the government to enforce 
obedience to law by the power of arms. That perhaps 
would be the exercise of a doubtful power, and certainly a 
dangerous one. It would be a hazardous remedy and 
might result in the greatest of evils, which at all times 
ought to be avoided, if possible, in a free country— civil 
war. The Supreme Court had in more than one instance 
performed its duty by declaring the Fugitive Slave Law 

382 East Tennessee and the Cvoil War. 

constitutioiial, but it had no power to enforce its decision. 
Diplomacy and negotiation, however, to say nothing of 
conciliation, were still open to the Southern States when 
war was inaugurated by them. At this very time, as is 
shown in detail elsewhere, the people of the North were 
ready to concede to the slave states nearly everything they 
might demand, if they would forego their determination to 
leave the Union. They could have had whatever they de- 
manded. But no concessions, no guaranties, it is believed, 
would have satisfied the ambitious leaders. They asked 
for none ; they would have accepted none, They wanted 
independence and that only. 

The controversy — at least the essential part of it — could 
have been adjusted. It ought to have been. A terrible 
responsibility lies at the door of one section or the other 
in that it was not settled. There was no necessity for war. 
It could and should have been avoided.^ If the North had 
stood out defiantly in the winter of 1860-1861— if Mr. 
Lincoln and congress had obstinately refused any conces- 
sions, or had manifested no spirit of conciliation, no return 
of brotherly love— they would have stood forever before 
the world as haughty and implacable in their overwhelm- 
ing strength. But they exhibited, in this hour, ho implac- 
able hatred, no haughty confidence bom of conscious su- 
periority of power. 

If the Southern States had made the violation of the con- 
stitution by certain states, in reference to the return of 
fugitive slaves to their owners, their single issue, in 1861, 
and had presented it in a spirit of moderation and firm- 
ness, with that force and clearness which its justice war- 

' " Pat it in your book," said to the aathor, an intelligent and most 
worthy gentleman from Alabama, an ez-Ck>nfederate snigeon, who served 
in the army daring the whole war, part of the time under Forrest — " pat 
it in your book, that there should have been no war, that the differences 
shoald have been adjusted ; that the people of the North and of the South 
were of substantially the same blood and did not hate each other, and that 
the war was the work of ambitious politicians and bad men on each side. 
The great body of the people on boUi sides were opposed to the war/' 

The Causes of Secession, 333 

ranted, and if their demand for a redress of their wrongs 
had been denied, every impartial mind would have been 
forced to acknowledge the justice of their complaint. They 
would have had the moral support of the world, in their 
struggle to preserve the constitution. The issue would 
have been so plain that all men could have seen it ; and all 
except those fanatically blind would have conceded its 
justice. Then, if war had to come, it would have been a 
war in defense of rights as clearly declared by the consti- 
tution, as the right to personal liberty itself. They would 
have had a quarrel that appealed to the sense of justice 
and commanded the approving conscience of the civilized 

But instead of this sharp, impregnable issue, the South- 
em leaders chose to make an issue out of nearly every act 
of national legislation for the last forty years in reference 
to slavery, nearly every one of which had been dictated by 
the South, or decided by Southern votes in the interest or 
the supposed interest of slavery, or according to principles 
established for its benefit. Many of these issues, as pre- 
sented, were fallacious and deceptive, some imaginary, 
and some unfounded. Unquestionably, by presenting un- 
founded, or untenable, or gravely disputed issues, those 
wherein they were right were overshadowed and lost sight 
of in the high conflict of words which followed. In this 
way the South lost its great moral vantage ground, where 
it might have securely intrenched itself behind a plain and 
undisputed provision of the constitution. 

South Carolina did make such a declaration, but its 
effect on the public mind of the North was neutralized by 
accompanpng it with an act withdrawing from the Union, 
and making preparations for war. 

It would be surprising, if we could exactly ascertain, 
how small the number of men in the South is who are 
actually responsible for the inauguration of the war. Up 
to the close of the presidential election in 1860, it is doubt- 
ful whether as many as a thousand in all the Southern 

334 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

States were working for the distinct object of separation • 
Previous to the time of firing on Sumter, it is doubtful 
whether in a single state, aside from South Carolina and 
Mississippi, a majority of the people were in their hearts 
honestly for a separation from the Union. They professed 
to be, it is true. But every one familiar with the fearful 
despotism of public opinion, in the cotton states, on the 
subject of slavery, will readily realize how impossible it 
was to resist this public sentiment in the winter and 
spring of 1861. In most of the states but few men were 
found brave enough to do so, and in some of the states 
secession swept over them with the suddenness and fury of 
a tropical tornado. 

The War of Secession is generally regarded as the 
''Slaveholders' War." It would be more correct to call 
it the ''Politicians' War." In the beginning it was the 
work alone of ambitious politicians. Gradually the circle 
widened and other classes were drawn into it. Finally 
whole sections were seized with the idea. Thus, from 
a beginning started by a few men, the movement spread 
over eight states. It is doubtful whether a majority of 
the slaveholders of these states were in favor of secession 
when it was first proposed. They were always conservative 
in habits and thought. They had vast interests involved 
in the issue. Nearly all they had was in slaves. They 
were doing weU, making large gains, and were happy and 
contented. They wished to let well enough alone. Be- 
sides this, outside of South Carolina, a majority perhaps 
of the planters were Whigs. The Whig party was every- 
where. North as well as South, opposed to secession. In 
the seceding states they never yielded to this fatal de- 
lusion, until they saw that further resistance to the storm 
of madness would be in vain and would result in their 
own ruin. At last, against their judgment, they were 
swept like driftwood into the angry current rushing by 
them, and carried along helplessly by the resistless 

The Causes of Secession. 33& 

On this point I give two or threes extracts, written, says 
the editor, by **one of the ablest of Virginians,*' and 
published in 1883, in the "American Register.'' The 
writer says : 

**I state a fact which every intelligent Southerner will 
confess to be a fact, that the great body of Southern slave- 
holders were the Whigs and Unionists of the South in 
1860-61. The Whigs were commonly denominated the 
* Broad-cloth party' of the South. Every intelligent 
slaveholder knew that his security as a slaveholder wa& 
based upon the stability of the Union. He hated alike 
the 'higher law' of Wendell Phillips and the lower one 
of revolution. . . . The illiterate and passionate 
largely outnumbered the * broad cloth', or Whig party. 

''Slaveholders were the educated, intelligent class of the 
South, multitudes of them graduates of eastern univer- 
sities. Their wealth made them most conservative ; their 
intelligence begat adhesion to the existing order of things. 
Security for an institution which the world reviled they 
knew consisted in the maintenance of the supremacy of the 
Union. . . . 

"Slaveholders were not idiots, and were only rebels^ 
when driven to a choice between war with the Union and 
an internecine war." 

Slavery was the remote, but not the immediate, cause 
of the war. This institution was as secure in 1861 as it 
was in 1820, and if the South had waited and willed it, it 
could have been so hedged around by constitutional guar- 
anties and safeguards as to place it forever beyond the power 
of government to molest. Slavery was made the excuse, 
the pretext for the war. It was the rallying cry of the 
daring leaders when they would inflame the minds of the 
Southern people with madness. 

The Southern people were sadly mistaken. They ex- 
pected a divided North. Such would have been the case if 
the leaders had waited in patience for the fruit to ripen • 
There can scarcely exist a doubt that a large majority of 

336 East Tennessee and the CivU War. 

the Northern people would have voted, in the spring of 
1861, to let the seceding states go in preference to tiie 
alternative of Civil War. So shocking, so dreadful was 
the idea of such a war that men were ready to give up 
everything rather than have such an affliction. But when 
the nation's honor was insulted, the feeling of brotherhood 
was turned into rage, that of peace into determined re- 
lentless war. 

To the last the South was mistaken. They believed the 
Northern people would not fight. They expected easy vic- 
tories. Washington, as they boasted, would soon be their 
capitol. One enthusiastic orator — ^a senator in the Con- 
federate congress — ^boasted that they would soon quaff wine 
from golden goblets in the palaces of New York. Another 
gentlemen boasted that he would call the roll of his slaves 
at the foot of Bunker Hill Monument. The boast was unir 
versal, and perhaps the belief also, that one Southern man 
could whip five Yankees. An Alabama gentleman reached 
the climax when he declared in a public speech that they could 
whip the North with pop-guns made out of elder stalks.* 

The doctrine of secession as a theory and its evils as a 
fact should be abandoned by every lover of peace. 

No government can stand long without sufficient power 
in its head to restrain its members into obedience to its 
laws. No government is worth preserving that is not 
strong enough to do this. It should be strong to protect 
and preserve, with no power to oppress. Every citizen 
should be free and secure in all his rights, but subject to 
law. He should be protected by law, made by himself, 
and yet forced to obey the law This is all there is of a 
well-regulated free government. It is all any man can ask. 
Every man has a right to be heard in choosing rulers and 

^ When twitted with this hoast after the war while making a public 
speech, this gentleman admitted that he had made the boast, and that 
what he said was true, but that the blasted Yankees would not fight with 

The Causes of Secession. 337 

in making laws, but when once heard, the voice of the 
majority must prevail. The minority must yield. This is 
self government. It is law and order. It is freedom. 

The great Washington, with his usual clearness and wis- 
dom, expressed the true idea of nationality in his letter to 
Jay of August 1, 1786, when he said : 

"I do not conceive we can exist long as a nation with- 
out having lodged somewhere a power which will pervade 
the whole Union in as energetic a manner as the authority 
of the state government extends over the several states." 

The Southern leaders, as a class, were honorable, truth- 
ful men. If they believed all they said in their speeches 
and writings, and they evidently did, they had great cause 
for bitterness. Many misconceptions, however, as to the 
purposes of the North, prevailed. On one point — ^the aim of 
the Abolitionists — ^there was no misconception, and this 
was sufficient to inflame the whole South. In this way 
alone can we account for the deadly and intense spirit of 
hate with which they regarded the people of the North. 
They felt as if each individual had a great wrong to redress. 
The leaders were not worse than a similar class of men in 
the North, and in many respects they were better. Pos- 
sibly they had a more vaulting ambition. In all the trans- 
actions of life, they were the equals of any men on earth. 
They had brooded and talked over their defeats and their 
real or imaginary wrongs until they were seized with a de- 
lusion. They thought honestly, I believe, that they had 
lost their rights in the government. Their utterances 
were violent and extreme. Yet they seemed perfectly sin- 
cere and were so. The great body of the Southern people 
who went into secession were undoubtedly honest in their 
action. It is impossible to conceive of a whole people rush- 
ing headlong into war — of such enthusiasm, such courage, 
such amazing endurance, and such heroic sacrifices— on any 
other hyi)othesis. They were a brave, manly, noble people, 
with as much regard for truth as is possessed by any 
other people. Indeed, their courage, independence and 

338 East Tennessee and the Civil War, 

frankness tended to make them conspicuous for truth- 

I draw a broad line of distinction between the leaders, 
the originators of the secession movement, and the soldiers 
and the great body of the people. When the war came 
on, the latter naturally sympathized with their section, 
with their state, their friends, their kindred. Many of 
them, perhaps a majority, thought that their first and 
highest allegiance was due to their state, and that this was 
paramount to that they owed to the United States. Their 
states having seceded, they felt that they were absolved 
from all obligations to the general government. Most of 
them, too, by reason of exaggerations universally circu- 
lated, believed that they were about to lose their liberties. 

And what shall be said of the women of the South? It 
must be recorded to their honor that never did women ex- 
hibit a higher or more determined spirit. It was earnest 
and enthusiastic. They infused their own lofty feelings 
into the minds of brothers, husbands, lovers, and finally 
into the soldiers in the field. With them, the cause of se- 
cession was above every earthly thing. The nearer they 
were touched by death in battle or hospital, the higher 
rose their spirit and determination. Extreme as their 
spirit may seem at this day, it was, under the dark shadow 
of war, something terrible and sublime. They were capa- 
ble, in their devotion to their cause, of the lofty patriotism 
of the Grecian mother, who, when informed by a messen- 
ger that her five sons had been killed in battle, scornfully 
said : ''I did not ask you as to my sons ; but tell me, how 
fared my country?" There was no sacrifice these noble, 
refined women were not willing to make for the Confeder- 
ate cause. Jewelry, dress, food, home, luxury, ease, com- 
fort—every material treasure, indeed — they were ready to 
sacrifice for success. Soft, delicate hands, unused to toil, 
labored with enthusiasm, as the mothers of the Revolution 
did, to provide clothing for the naked soldiers away in the 

The Causes of Secession. 339 

They were bitter ; yes, surpassingly so. And they never 
yielded ; were never conquered. When a town or city was 
captured by the Federals, secession flags were waved by 
female hands or hung from their windows. Yet these 
were not fierce viragoes, nor coarse, vulgar creatures from 
the slums of cities. They were generally the cultured, 
refined, beautiful daughters of the South, the very elite 
and flower of the best families, unsurpassed in loveliness 
and nobleness by the daughters of any age or clime. Bit- 
ter as they were, I yet bow in admiration before their 
matchless spirit and their unconquerable devotion to their 
cause. Never did legend or the pages of romance paint 
loftier or more heroic women. They were well worthy to 
be the mothers, wives, daughters, sisters and sweethearts 
of the brave chevaliers who for four years performed such 
prodigies of valor on the battle-field. Their devotion to 
their cause was heroic, sublime, worthy to be celebrated 
through all time in story, legend and song. 

340 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 



Odl for a convention of Union men — Meets in Knozville— Speeches of 
Johnson, Nelson and Arnold— Adjonms to meet again on the call of 
the president— A call to meet in Greenville, Jane 17th. A large dele- 
gation assembles— Fierce determination of delegates— Unwilling to sab- 
mit to Ck)nfederacy — Speeches and resolutions consume two days— Mr. 
Nelson's *' Declaration of Grievances " and resolutions referred to busi- 
ness committee — Character of this document— Great exdtementamong 
delegates— A majority favors extreme measures— Published history of 
convention not full— Original minutes— Embarrassing position of con- 
vention—Mr. Nelson's resolutions quoted— Reported by committee to 
convention for adoption— A substitute offered— Debate— Both re- 
ferred back to committee — Substitute reported for favorable action^ 
Adopted— Their purport— Debate— Position of speakers— Conservative 
members — Conmiissioneis named to memoralize the legislature — Con- 
vention closes in harmony — Mr. Netherland's speech — ^Narrowly escaped 
civil war— Mr. Nelson— Design and effect of '' Substitute "—little hope 
of a new state — ^Memorial to legislature — ^Mr. Maynard its author — 
Prayer of denied— Notice of the splendid men composing the conven- 
tion-Eulogy on Mr. Nelson— Secret executive committee appointed — 
Remarkable nature of this convention — Appropriateness of Greenville 
as its place of meeting. 

In May, 1861, a few gentlemen were sitting in my office 
on South Gay street, Knoxville, Tennessee, discussing the 
political situation in East Tennessee, when it was suggested 
by some one, in view of the prospect of the state voting at 
the approaching election for ** separation," that a call be 
issued for a convention of Union men to meet at Knoxville 
at an early day for consultation. John Williams, F. S. 
Heiskell, S. R. Rodgers, C. F. Trigg and Dr. Wm. Rodgers 
were present, and possibly others whose names appear ap* 
pended to the call. Some one, probably 0. F. Trigg, sat 
down at a desk and wrote the call, which was then signed 
by all present, other signatures being obtained afterward. 
Little did the originators of this meeting, when they signed 

The KnoxviUe-OreeneviUe Convention of 1861. 341 

the call for the assembling, imagine that it was to become 
an important historic event. The call was then published 
in Brownlow's **Whig." It was in the following words : 

**Ea8t Tbnnbsseb Convention. 

**The undersigned, a portion of the people of East Ten- 
nessee, disapproving the hasty and inconsiderate action of 
our general assembly, and sincerely desirous to do, in 
the midst of the troubles which surround us, what will be 
the best for our country, and for all classes of our citizens, 
respectfully appoint a convention to be held in Knoxville 
on Thursday the 30th of May inst. ; and we urge every 
county in East Tennessee to send delegates to this conven- 
tion, that the conservative element of our whole section 
may be represented, and that wise, prudent and judicious 
counsels may prevail looking to peace and harmony among 
ourselves . 

P. S. Heiskell, John Williams, 

0. F. Baker, John J. Craig, 

S. R. Rodgers, W. H. Rodgers, 

Dr. W. Rodgers, O. P. Temple, 

John Baxter, John Tunnell, 

C. F. Trigg, W. G. Brownlow, 

David Burnett, and others.'* 

On the day appointed for the meeting of the convention, 
the town was full of excited delegates. T^ie people had re- 
sponded to the call with a sympathy scarcely anticipated. 
The leading Union men from all parts of East Tennessee 
were present, full of enthusiasm and determination. All 
this showed that the depths of the hearts of the peo- 
ple had been stirred by the great events then transpiring. 
The venerable Gteneral Thomas D. Arnold, who had repre- 
sented the Knoxville district in congress thirty-five years 
before this time, was present, as full of courage and fire 
as when opposing and boldly denoimcing General Jackson 
in his races for the presidency. 

342 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

The meeting assembled in a beautiful grove, in East 
Knoxville, near the old Temperance Hall, now occupied 
by comfortable residences. The Hon. Thomas A. R. Nel- 
son was made permanent president and John M. Fleming, 
secretary. A committee on business or resolutions was ap- 
pointed, of which C. F. Trigg was chairman. 

The three great events of the convention, which lasted 
two days, were the speeches made by Mr. Nelson, General 
Arnold and Senator Johnson. Before taking the chair 
Mr. Nelson spoke for more than one hour, with his usual 
earnestness and power. It was an able, fervid and splendid 
effort. After him followed Gteneral Arnold in a speech of 
nearly two hours duration. For nearly thirty years I had 
often heard him at the bar and on the stump, and this was 
by far the finest effort of his life. It was bold, earnest, 
witty, pointed, and at times exceedingly eloquent. He 
seemed to be inspired with the liveliest sense of the danger 
which threatened the coimtry. He was lifted up above 
his common level. On the second day. Senator Johnson 
spoke for three hours, with perhaps more than his usual 
power. He was never in the habit of making failures on 
the stump, but was always equal to the demands of the 
occasion. On this day he seemed superior to himself. 
His speech was a masterly arraignment and a withering 
denimciation of the secession party, and an eloquent ap- 
peal to the people to stand by the Union. 

Strong and emphatic Union resolutions were submitted 
by the committee, which on a motion to amend, says the 
published report, * 'provoked a running debate, participated 
in by Messrs. Baxter, Temple, Trigg, Fleming, Spears and 
Wm. Heiskell." After amendment, the resolutions were 
adopted. Finally the convention adjourned to meet again 
on the call of the president, the time and place being left 
to him to determine. The proposal to meet again was in 
view of the fact that the people of the state were to vote 
on the question of separation on the 8th of June. It was 
deemed wise to adjourn over in order to meet the new 

The KruKcmUe-OreeneviUe Convention of 1861. 343 

exigencies which might 80on arise by reason of that elec- 
tion. In accordance, therefore, with the authority vested 
in the president, as soon as he ascertained the result of the 
election, he issued a call for the reassembling of the con- 
vention in Greenville, on the 17th of June. 

The Gbbbnbvillb Convention. 

This convention met under far diflferent circumstances 
from those existing at its first meeting in Knoxville. At 
that time there was still a possibility that the people of the 
state might vote down the proposition for the secession of 
the state. Now, so far as the will of the majority could 
give authority to what was believed to be an illegal and 
unconstitutional measure, the act of secession was ac- 
complished. No one doubted that Governor Harris and 
the Confederate government would be quick to put the 
state in line with the other seceding states, and attempt to 
force its people into immediate submission to the new 
authority. It was impossible for the great body of the 
people of East Tennessee to realize their new condition — 
that they were no longer under the protection of the gov- 
ernment of their fathers and of their choice, but subject to 
one hateful to them and alien to their love. 

But there were among the delegates at Greenville those 
who saw the full force of the recent act of the people of the 
state. They saw that the Union men were no longer free, 
as they recently were, to choose the government they 
would serve, but were in fact, or soon would be, subject to 
military authority. They knew that the very weakest 
revolutionary government could not afford to have its 
authority defied by a weak minority within the limits 
of its assumed jurisdiction. Much less would such strong 
men as Mr. Davis and Governor Harris submit to a local 
rebellion, or any independence of their authority. These 
men also realized that what had been tolerated a few days 
before would not be permitted thereafter ; that acts which 

344 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

were overlooked before ** separation/' would be treated as 
treason or insurrection in the future. They felt, therefore, 
that there was a grave and perplexing question to be con- 
sidered by the convention. Indeed, all the delegates felt 
that a great crisis in the history of the loyal people of 
East Tennessee had arrived. But a large majority were 
bold and defiant, and determined not to submit to a gov- 
ernment they hated. 

On the reassembling of the convention, the officers and 
committees chosen at Knoxville were continued in office. 
The most important of the committees was that on busi- 
ness, to which all resolutions were referred without debate. 
This consisted of the following persons : 

C. F. Trigg, of Knox; A. T. Smith, of Johnson; W. B. 
Carter, of Carter ; J. W. Deadrick, of Washington ; Jas. 
P. McDowell, of Greene; R. L. Stanford, of Sullivan; 
John Netherland, of Hawkins ; Jas. P. Swann, of Jeflfer- 
son; Samuel Pickens, of Sevier; Charles L. Barton, of 
Hancock; W. T. Dowell, of Blount; Wm. Heiskell, of 
Monroe; W. B. Staley, of Roane; D. C. Trewhitt, of 
Hamilton; R. M. Edwards, of Bradley; J. Stonecipher, 
of Morgan; L. C. Houk, of Anderson; W. G. Brownlow, 
of Marion (alternate) ; J. A. Cooper, of Campbell ; G. W. 
Bridges, of McMinn; T. J. Mathews, of Meigs; R. K. 
Byrd, of Cumberland (alternate) ; Wm. M. Biggs, of 
Polk; J. G. Spears, of Bledsoe; E. E. Jones, of Clai- 
boume ; Isaac Bayless, of Union ; H. G. Lea, of Grainger ; 
P. Easterly, of Cocke; S. C. Honeycutt, of Scott (alter- 
nate) and E. S. Langley, of Fentress (alternate). 

Soon after the election on the 8th of June, Senator 
Johnson had left his home in Greenville, accompanied by 
J. P. T. Carter, J. P. Holtsinger and W. D. McClelland, 
and started north in a buggy, by way of Cumberland Gap, 
since become so celebrated. He was therefore not present 
at the Greeneville Convention. 

The first two days were consumed largely in offering 
resolutions and in making speeches. The resolutions em- 

The Knoxville-OreenevUle Convention of 1861. 345 

braced a great variety of projects, dependent on the views 
of the persons oflfering them. Many of them were wild 
and visionary, and nearly all revolutionary. No two dele- 
gates agreed as to the policy to be adopted. The only 
point of general concurrence was a determination on the 
part of a large majority not to submit to the action of the 
people of the state in the late election. But how to mani- 
fest that determination, what action should be taken to 
accomplish this end, was a problem no one had solved. 

On the first day of the convention, the Hon. T. A. R. 
Nelson submitted a long paper, appropriately entitled a 
''Declaration of Grievances," followed by a number of 
violent resolutions pointing out the policy to be pursued. 
This paper was at once referred to the business committee 
for consideration. The Declaration of Grievances was an 
exceedingly able, bitter and daring arraignment of the se- 
cession party in Tennessee. This paper, somewhat modi- 
fied and softened down in tone by two committees through 
whose hands it passed, was finally adopted without opposi- 
tion, and appears in the published account of the proceed- 
ings. It is a document of great ability, and will forever 
lend honor to its distinguished author. This is perhaps 
the first time that it has been made public that this paper 
was the work of Mr. Nelson. This fact, though well 
known to the members of the convention, does not appear 
in the published proceedings. Whatever was reported for 
adoption by the business committee, and approved by the 
convention, appears as the work of the committee. 

It was fortunate that Mr. Nelson's resolutions were re- 
ferred, for if they had been acted on at once, they would 
have been adopted by an overwhelming majority. The 
committee did not get ready to report on the mass of mat- 
ter submitted to it until the afternoon of the third day. 
By that time, much of the heat and excitement at first ex- 
isting among the delegates had spent its force in speeches 
and resolutions. Their minds had somewhat sobered down 
and reason had resumed its rightful supremacy. 

346 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

The pamphlet purporting to give an account of the pro* 
ceedings of the convention, published by its order, does 
not contain all that was done, much less all that was pro* 
posed. A stranger, on reading the published account at 
this day, would gain a very imperfect idea of what 
really took place, and no knowledge whatever of the two 
antagonistic policies which divided the convention until 
near its close. It gives no insight into the history of the 
convention. It contains no account of what was proposed 
and failed. This was so for the most obvious reasons. It 
was not safe, nor prudent at that time to publish all 
that was proposed. Nor would it have been right or'just 
to expose to punishment or persecution the members who 
in their excitement had proposed violent measures, not 
adopted by the convention. 

Those who have read the book entitled **The Loyal 
Mountaineers of East Tennessee," by Rev. Thomas W. 
Humes, D.D., have gained from its perusal not only an 
imperfect, but a very inaccurate idea of what took place. 
This is not surprising, however, for its author was not a 
member of that body, nor was he present. In preparing 
his book, he did not have access to the original minutes, 
kept by Mr. John M. Fleming, the secretary, nor to the 
original papers submitted to the convention ; nor did he, 
as it would seem, consult those who knew the facts. 
These minutes and original papers are now in my posses* 
sion, and have been since 1861, except for a few months, 
when they were in the hands of Mr. Fleming. The min- 
utes are unbroken in their account, from day to day, ex- 
cept as to the first part of the first day, which is unimpor- 
tant. They are just as they were kept by the secretary as 
the business transpired, and all in his well-known hand- 
writing. Besides, I was a member of the convention, and 
it having fallen to my lot to have a large agency in shap- 
ing the policy finally adopted, I have, consequently, a 
vivid recollection of the most important proceedings. 

It is believed that this account of this celebrated con- 

The Knoxville^QreeneviUe Convention of 1861. 347 

vention will prove of interest to those who may come here- 
after. It is the only correct account ever published. No 
account of it would give the slightest idea of the real 
factSy without reference to the minutes or notes of the pro- 
ceedings kept by the secretary. The published proceed- 
ings only contain such facts as it was safe to print at that 

The members of the Greeneville Convention, on as- 
sembling, found themselves in an embarrassing dilemma, 
not realized by many of them at the time. When the 
Enoxville Convention adjourned, there was still some 
hope that the state might be saved at the approaching 
election. That hope was now gone. What was the con- 
vention to do in the new circumstances which surrounded 
it? Adjourn without doing anything? That would have 
been hiuniliating. No one thought of that. It was im- 
possible for the delegates to realize the change which had 
taken place. In May, there was a strong Union senti- 
ment, tiiough suppressed, in the other two divisions of the 
state ; now, in June, East Tennessee stood alone. Were 
her people able to resist all the rest of the state? Would 
they alone take up arms? 

Mr. Nelson's resolutions voiced the feeling of an over- 
whelming majority of the convention, as well as that of a 
large majority of the Union people. The delegates, like 
the people, were absolutely defiant in tone. They breathed 
the spirit of a free people whose independence was already 
won rather than lost. The material resolutions of Mr. 
Nelson are now in my possession, in his own handwriting. 

The first declared that *'we will not abide by the new 
^'DecWation of Independence" (adopted by the legisla- 
ture) **or attach ourselves to the Confederate States." 

The second declared that ''the counties of East Tennes- 
see and such of the adjacent counties in Middle Tennessee 
as choose to act with them will still legally and constitu- 
tionally continue in the Union as the State of Tennessee, 

348 East Tennessee and the Ciml War. 

subject to its constitution and laws, as far as the same may 
be applicable to our distracted and divided condition." 

The third declared in substance that if no effort should 
be made by the secessionists of Tennessee to coerce the 
people of East Tennessee into submission, *'we desire to 
maintain a position of neutrality between them and the 
federal government in the existing war," promising "not 
to interfere with them if they do not interfere with us," 
and "not to disturb the formation of disimion volunteer 
companies, or interfere with the railroad or the transporta- 
tion of troops," provided "we are not molested by either 
actual violence or insult," or "an attempt (be made) to 
enforce among us oppressive or unconstitutional laws, or 
to collect unlawful taxes." 

The fourth was that "if any attempt should be made to 
station or quarter troops among us from either of the other 
divisions of the state, or from the Confederate States, we 
will instantly call upon tho government of the United 
States for aid, and will use every means in our own power 
for our common defense." 

The ffth resolution was : "Resolved, that if any mem- 
ber of this convention, or any other citizen of East Ten- 
nessee, shall be killed in consequence of his Union senti- 
ments, or shall be arrested under any pretended law of 
treason, then we earnestly advise and recommend the most 
prompt and decided acts of retaliation by our people, 
leaving it to them to judge, in the circumstances by which 
they may be surrounded, of the nature and extent of such 
acts of retaliation." * 

The sixth resolution recommended "the formation of 
military companies with proper officers in every county 
and civil district" in East Tennessee, and "that such com- 
panies shall hold themselves in readiness at a moment's 

There were several other resolutions, but these are the 
material ones. Most of the others were stricken out by 
the business committee. The ones I have quoted were re- 

The KnoocviU&'OTeeneviUe Convention of 1861. 349 

ported by the committee to the convention for adoption. 
This was on the afternoon of the third day. The report 
of the committee at once came up for consideration. The 
published account of the proceedings reads thus : 

**Mr. Temple, of Elnox, presented a series of resolutions, 
and gave notice that he would offer them as a substitute 
for part of the committee's report. 

''After considerable debate, participated in by Messrs. 
Baxter, Havis, Clift, Brown, Myers, Swann, Thomburgh, 
Arnold, Carter, Temple and others, 

**0n motion, the substitute and the jir«^ resolution of the 
committee were referred back to the committee for a fur- 
ther report to-morrow morning.'* 

It is a mistake when the report speaks of the ^^ first 
resolution of the committee." It was the first six resolu- 
tions of the committee (being the first six of Mr. Nelson) , 
with the substitute that were referred back. This will ap- 
pear clearly by quoting from the minutes or notes of the 
secretary, which say : 

* 'Temple offered a substitute for all after the seventh Res." 
This should be all ''before" the seventh. It was the first 
six that were objectionable. It will be observed that the 
first six resolutions of Mr. Nelson, already quoted, errone- 
ously called "the first resolution," and the series of resolu- 
tions offered as a substitute, were the only matters referred 
back to the committee for further consideration. 

On the next morning, the fourth day of the convention, 
the committee again reported its decision to the conven- 
tion. The printed report says: "Mr. Trigg, from the 
business committee, again submitted their report. After 
much discussion, the declaration of grievances and resolu- 
tions were finally adopted as follows, without division :" 

The original minutes are fuller than the printed report. 
They say : "Mr. Trigg, from the committee, reported as 
follows : 

"Recommending to strike out first resolution" (Mr. Nel- 
son's six resolutions which had been recommended for 

350 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

adoption by the committee the day before) , ''and substitute 
as follows." This should read, as explained above, ''all 
before the seventh resolution," that is, to strike out the first 
six resolutions of Mr. Nelson and adopt the substitute. 

The resolutions substituted were those offered the pre- 
vious day by me. They were the ones finally adopted and 

In the debate which followed, the position taken by the 
several speakers is indicated by the notes of the secretary, 
as follows : 
*'Mr. Baxter opposed original resolutions, t. e., Mr. Nelson's. 

Mr. Havis favored " " " 

Clift, of Hamilton, favored 

Brown, of Washington, opposed 

Myers, of Olaiboume, favored 

Swann, of Jefferson, " " 

Thomburgh, of Jefferson, moved Temple's as a substitute. 

Arnold, of Greene, favored the original resolutions. 

W. B. Carter, of Carter, favored " " 

Temple, of Knox, favored substitute. 

Temple's referred back with original." 
The resolutions offered as a substitute, which were sub- 
mitted by the committee in lieu of Mr. Nelson's, and fi- 
nally adopted, were, in substance, as follows : 

1st. A declaration of an earnest desire that East Tea- 
nessee should not become involved in civil war. 

2d. That the action of the legislature in passing the so- 
called "Declaration of Independence," in "forming the 
Military League" with the Confederate States, and in 
adopting other acts "looking to a separation of Tennessee 
from the government of the United States, is unconstitu- 
tional and illegal, and therefore not binding upon us as 
loyal citizens." 

3d. "That in order to avert a conflict with our brethren 
of other parts of the state, and desiring that every consti- 
tutional means shall be resorted to for the preservation 
of the peace, we do, therefore, constitute and appoint 

The KnoxvilU'OreeneviUe CanvevUion of 1861, 851 

whose duty it shall be to prepare a memorial, and cause 
the same to be presented to the general assembly of Ten- 
nessee, now in session, asking its consent that the counties 
composing East Tennessee, and such counties in Middle 
Tennessee as desire to co-operate with them, may form and 
erect a separate state." 

4th. **But, claiming the right to determine our'* (their) 
**own destiny," the people were requested to hold an elec- 
tion in all the counties of East Tennessee, and in such coun- 
ties in Middle Tennessee, adjacent thereto, as may desire 
to co-operate with them, for the choice of delegates to rep- 
resent them in a general convention to be held in the town 
of Kingston, at such time as the president of this conyen- 
tion, etc., might designate, etc. 

The 5th and 6th resolutions provided the mode of hold- 
ing the election, and fixed the ratio of representation in 
the convention. 

Immediately after the committee made its report in the 
afternoon of the third day, and after the substitute for Mr. 
Nelson's resolutions had been presented, a hot debate sprang 
up in the convention, as indicated above, over the two sets 
of resolutions. Mr. John Baxter, Mr. Montgomery Thorn- 
burgh, Mr. A. J. Brown and myself, supported the substi- 
tute, and opposed the more violent resolutions submitted 
by the committee. Messrs. S. T. Havis, Wm. Clift, V. 
Myers, J. P. Swann, Thos. D. Arnold and W. B. Carter 
warmly advocated the adoption of the committee's first re- 
port. It was intimated by some of them that those enter- 
taining opposite views were actuated by fear. Oeneral 
Arnold poured a perfect broadside of ridicule and sarcasm, 
in his inimitable way, on the heads of the conservative 
speakers. A great deal of fine talking took place about 
the effective work which could be done with squirrel rifles 
and shot guns in the hands of our mountain men, in the 
event of a conflict with the Confederacy. These debates, 
sometimes almost personal, and at all times excited, lasted 

352 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

all the afternoon. This was the first time the members 
began to think seriously about the great questions under 
consideration. It had become apparent, by the debate, 
that there was a wide divergence of opinion in the conven- 
tion. Hence, after the discussion, at a late hour, the reso- 
lutions were recommitted with directions for another re- 
port the next morning. 

Mr. Nelson's resolutions, as at first reported for adoption 
by the committee, reflected the views of those who favored 
resistance to the authorities of the state. These consti- 
tuted, at first, a very large majority. This majority was 
decidedly in the ascendency, until the debate of that after- 
noon, when for the first time, an opposite and a more 
pacific policy was presented. There had been, however, 
from the first, a number of thoughtful delegates, who saw 
the perils of the situation, and were opposed to any extreme 
action, and who wished to wait until relief should come 
from the Federal government. They saw that the situa- 
tion was a very grave one, demanding the utmost prudence 
and discretion. These stood ready to oppose any extreme 
or revolutionary measures. Among these were Maynard, 
Baxter, Deadrick, Wm. Heiskell, Thomburgh, Brown, 
Butler, McDowell, Fleming and myself. On the other 
side, were the great influence and name of Mr. Nelson, the 
president, and Mr. Trigg, the chairman of the business 
committee, and thirty members of his committee, with 
Greneral Arnold, W. B. Carter, Colonel Clift, and very 
many more influential men. 

On the next morning, when the committee recommended 
striking out the first six resolutions of Mr. Nelson, and the 
adoption of the substitute, the fight commenced anew. 
Mr. Robert Johnson, a son of Andrew Johnson, moved at 
once to reinstate Mr. Nelson's resolutions, but finally with- 
drew his motion. Then Mr. Nelson, leaving the chair, re- 
newed the motion. But on a parliamentary point, raised 
by Mr. R. R. Butler, his motion was also withdrawn. A 

The KnoxvUU'ChreeneviUe Convention of 1861. 353 

debate on the general merits followed. Neither the min- 
utes nor the printed account show who took part in this 
debate, except that the former show that '^ Baxter opposed 
inaugurating revolution," and **McGaughey, of Greene, 
favored committee's first resolution," (Mr. Nelson's) . At 
some time either during that day, or on the previous after- 
noon, Mr. Maynard made a very temperate speech in favor 
of moderation and caution. This fact does not appear in 
either of the accounts, but I remember it distinctly. The 
published account says that ^' after much discussion, the 
declaration of grievances, and resolutions" (the substitute) 
**were finally adopted without a division." The minutes 
say they were all adopted ^^ seriatim una voce.^^ 

The blank in the resolutions was filled by the conven- 
tion or by the committee, by inserting the names of Oliver 
P. Temple, John Netherland and James P. McDowell 
as commissioners to memorialize the legislature in reference 
to a new state. 

After the adoption of the ** Declaration of Grievances," 
the minutes show that that document was referred to Mr. 
Nelson, Mr. Maynard and myself, for final revision. Mr. 
Nelson declined or failed to act, and Mr. Maynard and I 
spent several hours in toning it down, and in eliminating 
from it words and sentences which it was not deemed 
prudent to publish at that time. Still, this splendid docu- 
ment, as it now appears, though slightly modified from the 
original, was the work of Mr. Nelson, and he alone is en- 
titled to the credit of its authorship. We did not improve 
it, nor hope to do so. We simply omitted such expressions 
as it would have been dangerous to publish at that time. 

Thus this memorable convention, which opened in a storm 
of excitement and passion, closed in perfect harmony. 
The dark clouds, portending civil war, which hung over 
East Tennessee for the previous three days, were blown 
away by prudent counsels and the adoption of pacific 
measures. The only exception to the harmony which pre- 
vailed was on the part of Mr. John Blevins and Mr. W. C, 

354 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

Kyle, of Hawkins county. Near the close of the conven- 
tion, they presented a paper protesting '^ against the action 
of the convention,*' but in what respect, they did not say. 
Why this protest was presented, has never been manifest. 
To have done less and said less than was done and said by 
the convention would have been cowardly, and degrading 
to the high honor and courage of the Union men of East 
Tennessee. Doubtless there were many delegates, perhaps 
a majority, who were not quite satisfied with the action 
taken. These evidently, however, saw no other safe 
course open to them, for none of them voted against the 
resolutions which were adopted, and all voted for them. 

The convention acted with great deliberation. As will be 
seen it lasted four days. A speech made by John Nether- 
land on the first day of its meeting, no doubt helped te 
prevent hasty action. This was the only speech preserved, 
even in brief, by the secretary, and it deserves reproduc- 
tion. He said : 

**Our deliberations and acts will become historic. We 
should act calmly. We are in a revolution and a fearful one. 
As a Union man, I say for myself that we have acted right 
in East Tennessee. But we must look at things practically. 
In February, we triimiphed in the state by 60,000 majority ; 
that majority has melted away and now the majority against 
us is 50,000. East Tennessee has stood firm. Now, before 
taking steps, let us feel the ground firm under us. Do not 
hurry through the convention." 

Whatever difference of opinion might have existed in 
June, 1861, as to the policy which was finally adopted by 
the Greeneville convention, it is submitted that at this day 
none can exist as to its wisdom ; or, to reverse the proposition, 
no difference of opinion can exist as to the extreme inex- 
pediency of passing Mr. Nelson's resolutions, which were at 
first indorsed and recommended by the business committee. 
Yet, no refiection is intended to be cast, either upon their dis- 
tinguished author, nor upon the committee. The committee 
was composed of thirty gentlemen, one from each county,. 

TJie KnoxviUe-OreeneviUe Convention of 1861. 365 

and they were supposed to be, and were in fact, among the 
ablest and wisest men in the convention. Some of them 
were extremely conservative in their views, and opposed to 
any violent measures. This was especially the case with 
Netherland, McDowell, Deadrick and Wm. Heiskell. And 
yet it is worthy of remark that, when the violent resolu- 
tions of Mr. Nelson were first reported for adoption, there 
was no adverse report, and the action of the committee 
seemed to be unanimous. This fact shows the intense ex- 
citement of a majority of the delegates during the first 
three days, which carried even the coolest minds beyond 
the bounds of prudence. Besides, until the afternoon of 
the third day, there had not yet been presented a single 
alternative proposition, suitable to the grave emergency 
then existing. 

If Mr. Nelson's resolutions had been adopted, it would 
have brought on the people of East Tennessee at once all 
the horrors of civil war. These resolutions constituted a 
bold defiance of the state and of the Confederate authorities, 
such as no government could have tolerated. No doubt it 
seemed entirely practicable, at that day, to those who were 
carried away by their zeal and excitement, to maintain an 
independent state, to keep up an army, to resist arrests and 
the payment of taxes, and to inflict at will retaliatory meas- 
ures, and, if necessary, to fight battles; but those who 
thus thought knew nothing of actual war, and were ap- 
parently ignorant of the power and spirit of the great 
revolution then surrounding them. A prevalent idea in 
the convention was that the Federal Government would 
protect the loyal people of East Tennessee. And yet, at 
that time, there was not a federal soldier south of the 
River Ohio, a distance of nearly three hundred miles. 
It was more than two years after this time before a reliev- 
ing army reached Knoxville. At the very time the conven- 
tion was in session even the capitol of the nation was in 
serious peril . However strongly Union men may have hoped 
and believed that relief would soon come from that quar- 


56 East Tennessee and the Civil War, 

ter, we know now that federal aid was at that time utterly 
hopeless and impossible. Mr. Lincoln, with his big heart, 
constantly urged, entreated and commanded his generals 
to relieve these people, and yet it took two years to accom- 
plish this cherished object. 

If a strong federal column had even penetrated to Knox- 
ville in 1861 or 1862, previous to the fall of Nashville and 
Memphis, it would have likely perished or have been driven 
back in disaster. Gteneral Grant was right when, in 1864, 
he ordered all the armies to move forward at one time. 
The hazard, the folly, indeed, of throwing one army, ex- 
cept the main one, into the heart of the enemy's country, 
far ahead of other supporting columns, was too evident to 
such strategists as General McClellan, General Buell and 
General Sherman for them to attempt such a thing. For 
this reason East Tennessee had to wait until the whole 
line was pushed forward. 

Suppose Mr. Nelson's resolutions had been adopted. 
They constituted a bold declaration of independence. They 
set East Tennessee in distinct array against the will of a 
majority of the people of the state and its constituted au- 
thorities. They placed us in hostility to the Confederate 
Government. We became by that act in a state of re- 
bellion. We would therefore have been treated as rebels. 
Every prominent member of the convention probably 
would have been arrested for treason. Then would have 
commenced the work of retaliation, recommended by the 
fifth resolution of Mr. Nelson. If it required, as it did, 
all the restraining influence of the Union leaders to keep 
our indignant people from commencing the extermination 
of the Confederates before that time, what would have been 
the result of the advice deliberately given by the assembled 
leaders? The work of slaughter would have been com- 
menced at once by them. Thereupon Confederate soldiers 
would have been sent into every county to suppress the 
uprising. Many of these would have been shot by Union 
men in ambush. Wholesale arrests and shooting of Union 

The KnoxviUe-OreeneviUe Convention of 1861. 357 

men would have followed. Soon these would have been 
driven from their homes into the woods or mountains. 
Guerilla warfare would have succeeded. Union men would 
have perished in this unequal contest by the thousands. 
The leaders would have been hung under sentence of 
drum-head court-martials, or sent South to die in prisons. 
The scenes of La Vendue during the French Revolution 
would have been re-enacted in East Tennessee. Blood 
would have flowed like water. There could have been but 
one result to such a mad and unequal contest — ^the utter 
destruction and overthrow of the Union people. They had 
no arms, no ammunition, no military organization. In 
vain they would have looked to the Federal Government for 
help and protection. At that time it was as powerless to 
help them as they would have been to protect themselves. 

There were at that time not a half-dozen even partial 
military companies in all East Tennessee. These were 
without drill, and, worse still, without arms or ammuni- 
tion. The Confederate Government could have thrown 
five or ten thousand soldiers among us in two or three 
days. Indeed, at that very time, there was a considerable 
Confederate force at Knoxville and at other points. 
Nearly every train that passed carried a regiment of sol- 
diers from the states South and West on their way to Vir- 
ginia. While the convention was in session, more than 
one regiment of Confederate troops passed every day 
within sight of the place where the meetings were held. 
Indeed, it has always been a source of surprise that the 
delegates were not arrested while in session or the meeting 
broken up. Its sessions were not secret, but open to all 
who chose to witness them. There wero spies present, 
and that was well known to the members. The only way 
that this immunity from arrest or molestation can be ac^ 
counted for id on the well-known fact that the secessionists 
of East Tennessee were at that time in greater fear of the 
Union men than the latter were of them. While the con- 
vention was in session, the ** Louisiana Tigers" stopped in 

358 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

Greeneville, entered the town, cut down the national flag, 
made threats, committed some minor outrages, and, after 
a few hours, departed to Virginia. The delegates were on 
the streets during all this time, acting discreetly, but de- 
fiantly. They carefully ayoided provoking a collision, but 
stood ready to defend themselves as best they could should 
they be assailed. They everywhere spoke their minds 
freely and boldly. A few months later, when arrests com- 
menced being made, they were forced into discreet silence. 
They had learned that, with all their courage, they were 
powerless to resist. 

It must be kept in mind, in order to realize the situation 
at that time, that our people were absolutely without any 
of the means of warfare, with no military leaders of ex- 
perience, and that they were surrounded on every side but 
one by a hostile territory, and eagerly watched by a hostile 
army in their very midst. The idea of attempting resist- 
ance to the whole Southern Confederacy would seem al- 
most ludicrous at this day, were it not for the gravity and 
the sincerity of the men who proposed it, and the supreme 
imminence of the danger which was so narrowly escaped. 
Even after the lapse of thirty-seven years, I tremble at the 
thought of the countless horrors and calamities which 
came so nigh befalling the Union people of East Tennessee 
at that time. For a time, they seemed willing to face this 
fate, inspired by their undying love of the Union, and 
their unflinching determination never to submit to the 
Southern Confederacy. 

No one was hopeful that the legislature would consent 
to the formation of East Tennessee into a new state. But 
it was seen that this scheme presented a plausible plan, 
and the only one, for turning the excited minds of a ma- 
jority of the members away from the adoption of violent 
and revolutionary measures to those of a pacific character. 

When the substitute was offered, there was nothing 
before the convention except Mr. Nelson's resolutions, 
which in effect proposed to encourage the Union men to 

The KnoxviUe-QreeneviUe Convention of 1861. 359 

take up arms, bum bridges and engage in a wholesale re- 
taliation for any wrongs suffered by them. There was no 
provision made for their protection in the future. There 
was no future programme laid out. The substitute had a 
double object. The first was, and this was the chief one, 
to avert civil war, which was inevitable should Mr. Nel- 
son's resolutions be adopted. The second object was to 
provide for any future contingency which might arise, by 
the election of delegates to a convention to meet on the 
call of the president, thus keeping up an organization 
with competent authority to act. It was barely possible, 
though hardly hoped for by the most sanguine, that the 
legislature might give its assent to the formation of a new 
state. But it might be well for delegates to a convention 
to be elected, and to meet some time in the future for 
other purposes. The substitute provided for such a con- 

If the substitute resolutions did not accomplish all that 
was hoped, they did secure the first and greatest object — 
the preservation of peace. They prevented the greatest of 
all calamities — a fraternal civil war, with all its attendant 

If a new state had been formed, it would, of course, 
have asked congress for admission into the Union. It was 
with that end in view, in part at least, that the consent of 
the legislature was asked, in conformity with the constitu- 
tion of the United States. In West Virginia, at a little later 
date, this end was secured by calling together the members 
of the legislature of the parent state who resided within the 
limits of the proposed new state. This body, assimiing to 
be the legislature of the whole state, although notoriously 
representing not more than one-third of it, gave its formal 
assent to the formation of a new state. But both congress 
and the President yielded to the view that this body was 
competent to give the assent required only after long delay 
and hesitation. It must be observed, however, that Mr. 
Bates, Mr. Wells and Mr. Blair, members of the cabinet, 

360 East Tennessee and the CivU War. 

gave the President written opinions against the legality of 
the proceedings, while Mr. Seward, Mr. Chase and Mr. 
Stanton took the opposite view. In the vote ratifying the 
new constitution of West Virginia, less than twenty thou- 
sand votes were cast. This legislature had, however, in 
1861, elected senators to congress who had been admitted 
to their seats in the senate. This recognition of this body 
as the legislature of the state no doubt had something to 
do with the creation and admission of the new state. 

Although the analogy between East Tennessee and West 
Virginia, in the early stages of the war, is very striking in 
many respects, yet that analogy soon ceased. Had East 
Tennessee been on the border of the free states from which 
large armies could easily move, and into which they could 
be quickly thrown, for the protection of conventions, legis- 
latures and the loyal people, as West Virginia was, East 
Tennessee would to-day no doubt be one of the states of 
the Union. The loyal people of West Virginia were pro- 
tected from the opening of the war by large Union armies, 
which gave freedom of thought and of action to the 

Soon after the adjournment of the Greeneville Conven- 
tion, the commissioners appointed for this purpose drew 
up a memorial and forwarded it to the legislature, asking 
its consent to the formation of a new state. This memo- 
rial, was afterwards respectfully considered by that body, 
and, as was expected, its prayer denied. This document, 
as will be seen by reading it, was couched in terms of 
moderation, but was frank and outspoken in the expression 
of a desire on the part of the Union people of East Ten- 
nessee to adhere to the government of their fathers. It is 
chaste in style, courteous in tone, and exceedingly skillful 
in expression. Indeed, it is a masterpiece of diplomatic 
composition in asserting our rights with plausible in- 
genuity, and yet not offensive. For the first time, it is 
publicly stated that it was the work of the Hon. Horace 

The KnoxviUe-Oreencville Convention of 1861. 361 

Maynard written after conferring with me. Still it was 
the work of that scholarly man, written at my request. 

More than a mere passing notice is due to the memory 
of the men who composed this historic convention. The 
best men in the Union party of East Tennessee were 
present. It was truly representative in character. In 
worth and standing, they were nearly equal to any body 
of men ever assembled in the state. In ability, it con- 
tained men of the first order. As lawyers, Nelson, May- 
nard, Baxter and Trigg stood in the front rank, not only 
in East Tennessee, but throughout the state. As popular 
orators, Netherland, Nelson, Maynard, Arnold and Trigg 
had but few equals in the state, and none in East Tennes- 
see, except Andrew Johnson. In intellectual power, John- 
son and Baxter had no equals in the state, excepting John 
Bell. In courage and boldness, no men could anywhere 
be found superior to Brownlow, Johnson, Trigg, Baxter, 
Nelson and Arnold. In honor and lofty integrity, there 
were men in this body who would have adorned the age 
of chivalry. In bold and terrible energy in writing, Brown- 
low had no peer in the state. As a graceful, elegant and 
brilliant editor, Fleming, though but a young man, had 
but few equals. 

The nimiber of men present who were then or after- 
wards became prominent and even distinguished is note- 
worthy. Counting the Knoxville and Greeneville Conven- 
tion as the same, as they really were, one member became 
president of the United States. Three, Johnson, Patter- 
son and Brownlow, filled seats in the United States senate. 
One, Mr. Maynard, served fourteen years in congress, and 
then became minister to Turkey, and afterwards postmaster- 
general. Baxter became a United States circuit judge, 
while Trigg became a United States district judge. Two, 
Brownlow and Senter, became governors of the state. 
Nelson and Maynard were then members of congress. 
Afterwards Houk, Crutchfield, Bridges and Butler also be- 
came members of Congress, the first having been elected 

362 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

for seven terms. Arnold had twice been a member of 
congress. Nelson and Deadrick became judges of the Su- 
preme Court of Tennessee, and the latter its chief justice. 
Trewhitt, Staley, H. C. Smith, John M. Smith and the 
author became chancellors of the state. D. T. Patterson, 
Butler, Brown, J. P. Swann, Bridges, Houk, Yoimg, 
Logan and N. A. Patterson had been or became circuit 
judges. Joseph A. Cooper became a major-general ajid J. 
6. Spears a brigadier-general in the Federal army, and 
twenty-five of the delegates became colonels. Besides, 
twenty-nine delegates or more, either had been, were then, or 
afterward became senators or representatives in the legis- 
ture. W. B. Carter, another delegate, never held office, 
except in the constitutional convention of 1870, but in 
scholarship, in astuteness of intellect, and in logical 
analysis he had but few equals in the day of his full men- 
tal power. He it was who originated and alone directed 
the execution of burning simultaneously all the railroad 
bridges on the great line of transportation of Confederate 
troops between Bridgeport, Alabama, and Bristol, Tennes- 
see, in November, 1861. Mr. Netherland was also a man 
of marked ability. He was a peerless advocate and a 
noted popular speaker. In 1859, he was the Whig candi- 
date for governor against Isham G. Harris. 

Before closing this chapter, a few words as to the Hon. 
T. A. R. Nelson are necessary. A more honest man never 
lived. Perfectly fearless himself, he had no sense of dan- 
ger. More prudent men, possibly as brave as he, saw peril 
where he saw only duty and honor. Hurried along by his 
own knightly spirit and dauntless courage, without stop- 
ping to count the odds, but looking alone to the right, he 
would have had the brave people of East Tennessee imi- 
tate the heroic example of the Swiss under Tell, or the 
Scots under Bruce. Fortunately for the Union people of 
East Tennessee, as was then thought by a few more pru- 
dent men, and as all can now see, his daring policy^, after 

The KnoxviUe^OreeneviUe Convention of 1861. 363 

a full discussion of its merits, finally proved unacceptable 
to a large majority of the convention. 

It is not correct, as is stated in the book entitled ^'The 
Loyal Mountaineers of East Tennessee, ' ' that it was through 
the influence and exertions of Mr. Baxter, aided by Mr. 
Deadrick and Mr. Maxwell, that the convention became 
harmonious, and the peace of East Tennessee was pre- 
served. Mr. Baxter, it is true, was opposed to the adop- 
tion of violent measures, and made two strong speeches in 
favor of the pacific measures contained in the substitute, 
and in opposition to Mr. Nelson's plan. He did his full 
share in preserving the peace, but others did the same. He 
submitted no resolutions, was on no committee, and made 
no motions. Neither is it correct that Mr. Deadrick and 
Mr. Maxwell were specially influential in opposing Mr. 
Nelson's resolutions. Neither the published nor the. un- 
published records show that these gentlemen opened their 
lips in either of the debates, nor can I recall that they did. 
I, however, know that Mr. Deadrick was very conservative 
in his views. 

Before the convention adjourned, the president was au- 
thorized to appoint five persons as an executive committee, 
with power to act until the next meeting in all matters of 
emergency for the best interest of the Union party of East 
Tennessee. This committee had large discretionary pow- 
ers. No record was made of this action. It was intended 
that this should be a secret executive committee. But few 
persons, even among the members of the convention, knew 
that there was such a committee. It was composed of C. 
P. Trigg, John Williams, Abner G. Jackson, John M. 
Fleming and myself — ^all of Knoxville. The committee 
held two or three, or, possibly, more meetings, always in 
secret. One of these was held in the coimtry at the resi- 
dence of Mr. Abner G. Jackson. If it had been known 
that we belonged to such a committee and that we were 
holding secret meetings, it certainly would have lead to 
our arrest. All that the committee ever did, or attempted. 


364 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

was to meet and consult together, and exert their influence 
with Union men for the preservation of peace and order. 

The Greeneville Convention was one of the most notable 
meetings ever held in the United States. Indeed, it is 
without an analogy. The state had then, by a vote of 
sixty-four thousand majority, assimied its place as a mem- 
ber of the Southern Confederacy. War then existed be- 
tween the parent government and its seceding members. 
The Confederacy had armies in the field, able to enforce 
obedience and submission to its laws everywhere within 
its dominions. And yet, in the face of these facts, and in 
the very presence of the armies of the revolutionary gov- 
ernment, this convention assembled, and both the extrem- 
ists and the conservatives proceeded solemnly to declare that 
'^the action of the state legislature in passing the so-called 
'Declaration of Independence;' in forming a * Military 
League' with the Confederate States, and in adopting other 
acts looking to the separation of the State of Tennessee 
from the government of the United States, is (was) un- 
constitviional and iUegalj and, therefore, not binding on us 
(them) as loyal citizens." 

The members of the convention then proceeded one step 
further, and boldly claimed the right to determine their 
own * 'destiny," in choosing the government to which they 
would give their services and their allegiance. Accord- 
ingly, they proceeded to take steps for the organization^ 
upon obtaining the consent of the legislature, of a new 
state in the heart of the South, which state was to be in 
harmony with that of the United States. That irresistible 
force prevented the accomplishment of this daring pur- 
pose, does not in the least lessen its surpassing boldness. 
The spirit of these declarations was faithfully kept by 
these brave, patriotic people. When it was foimd that a 
loyal state could not be formed, true to the claim made by 
them of "the right to determine their own destiny," more 
than thirty thousand of them left their homes (as refu- 

The KnoxviUe-OreeneviUe Convention of 1861. 365 

gees) and joined the federal army. Thus thej kept the 
pledge they made to their country. 

Nearly three years after the adjournment of the Greene- 
ville Convention, it was again called together in Knoxville, 
in the spring of 1864. Of the proceedings of this conven- 
tion I have given an account elsewhere. It is sufficient to 
say that it was a divided body, and after a four days' 
session, without doing anything, a motion to adjourn 
sine die was carried.^ 

There was something exceedingly appropriate in the 
selection of Greeneville as the second place of meeting of 
the patriots of East Tennessee. This was one of the oldest 
towns of the state. The cradle of the state was in that 
region. From that region had gone forth, in 1780, the 
heroes of King's Mountain. Here had been, at one time, 
the capitol of the once famous State of Franklin. Here 
John Sevier, its governor, had tried to bring into form 
and vigorous life the discordant elements of his revolu- 
tionary state. In this region had settled that splendid 
Covenanter race, whose virtues still adorn its population 
even after the lapse of more than a himdred years. In 
this place the glorious memories of the past crowded thick 
and fast upon the mind. It was full of the inspiration of 
patriotism. Everywhere could be seen the descendants of 
revolutionary heroes. And only a few miles away to the 
southward the Qreat Smoky Moimtains rose up and 
stretched away in matchless grandeur and sublimity, 
inmiovable and unchangeable, typical of the stedfastness 
of the brave Covenanter people who dwelt in the valleys 
spreading out from their base. 

1 The ** Declaration of Grievances " and the reeolntions finally adopted 
by the Greeneville Convention, together with the ''Memorial" sent to the 
legislatare, and a list of the delegates present will be found in Appendix 
A to this volume. 

366 East Tennessee and the Civil Wa/r. 



Unpleasant condition of Union people of East Tennessee after the secession 
of state — Commenced going North for safety — W. B. Carter proposes 
to the President and General McClellan to bom all railroad bridges in 
East Tennessee — Approved by them — Relief of Union people prom- 
ised — General Bobert Anderson appointed to command an expedition 
for this purpose — Sacceeded by General Sherman—Expedition under 
General Thomas starts for East Tennessee — Is recalled — Carter author- 
ised to bum bridges — Starts to Tennessee — Selects his assistants — 
Night of 8th of November the time — Carter ignorant that Thomas had 
been recalled— Plan executed in part— Ohickamauga bridges, Hiwas- 
see bridge, Lick Creek bridge, Watauga bridge all burned— Names in 
part of persons engaged — FaUure as to four bridges— Resistance and 
fight at Strawberry Plains bridge — Gathering of citizens with arms 
at Wataugar-Gathering in Sevier county-— FoUy of burning these 

On the adjournment of the Greeneville Convention there 
was a short lull in the stormy excitement among the 
Union people of East Tennessee. The action of that body 
in refusing to advise the organization and equipment of 
the Union men for war had a soothing effect. They at 
once began to resume their' usual and peaceful avocations. 
With one mind they were determined not to join the Con- 
federate army, and this resolution was faithfully kept. It 
is a remarkable attestation of their firmness and loyalty 
that perhaps not five per cent of these men ever wavered 
in their course or joined the Confederacy after the seces- 
sion of the state in June, 1861. Many of them, on the 
other hand, were reluctant to take up arms against their 
neighbors and kinsmen in the Southern army. But there 
was one point on which they all agreed, and that was in a 
firm and immutable resolution never under any circum- 
stances to fire a hostile shot at the flag of their country. 
Many of them were willing, if permitted to do so, to remain 

Burrdng the Bridges. 867 

at home in peace, quiet spectators of the great conflict in 
which they could not follow their patriotic instincts. But 
even this poor privilege was soon denied them. 

The triumph of the secessionists in the June election, 
and the presence of Southern troops at many important 
points in East Tennessee, gave high confidence to their adher* 
ents. These served to encourage many of them to extreme 
arrogance in their demeanor toward the Union men. This 
feeling was greatly intensified by the first victory at Bull 
Run. This seemed not only to move their joy, but to stir 
up within them all the ill-feeling which the war had en- 
gendered. In country districts they became especially in- 
suiting to the Union men. Now and then the best and 
the most honorable Confederates did not consider it de* 
grading to inform on their Union neighbors. Sometimes 
the most sacred ties of friendship and even of kinship were 
disregarded. Men hitherto of mildest disposition not un- 
frequently seemed to become anxious for blood. This is one 
of the phenomena of the war which I could never under- 
stand. And only those who witnessed it, can ever realize 
the intensity of this feeling. 

Gradually the fact became apparent to the Union men 
that they were imder the dominion of a power hostile to 
their opinions. They were denounced as *'tories,'* as 
^'Ldncolnites" and as cowards. Their situation was be- 
coming unbearable. So, they began at last to cast their 
eyes in the direction of Kentucky, as an asylum of safety. 
Senator Johnson had left in Jime. Mr. Nelson made an 
attempt to reach the North early in Aizgust, but had been 
intercepted and arrested in South "West Virginia, and sent 
to Richmond. Mr. Maynard had managed to be in Scott 
county, bordering on Kentucky, on the day of the state 
election for members of congress, on the first Thursday of 
August. In the afternoon he quietly took his horse, and 
the next morning was safely beyond the state border. 
Mr. George W. Bridges was elected a member of congress 
from the 8d district. He too started North after the elec- 

368 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

tion by nearly the same route taken by Mr. Maynard, but 
he was enticed back to see a dying wife, as was pretended, 
and was arrested. Andrew J. Clements was elected from 
the 4th district and managed to get North. He took his 
seat in the next congress. 

All these had started North as members of congress, and 
expected soon to return to their families. Mr. James P. 
Garter had accompanied Mr. Johnson in his flight in June. 
In the latter part of June, or early in July, Rev. "William 
B. Carter also went North to try and procure some kind of 
relief for the people of East Tennessee. 

On the first Thursday of August, 1861, the real flight 
of Union men from East Tennessee commenced. On that 
day Felix A. Reeve, then a young man, started North, by 
way of Nashville and Louisville, with the fixed purpose of 
never returning if the Southern Confederacy should be 
successful. A little more than two years after this, how- 
ever, he did return at the head of the Eighth Regiment of 
Tennessee Infantry. 

The first refugee unquestionably was Fred. Heiskell, of 
Knox county. The very day the firing on Sumter took 
place he commenced preparing to go North. On the 18th 
of April he was in Louisville . On the 20th or 21st he enlisted 
in Colonel W. W. Woodruflf's First Kentucky Regiment. 
He served throughout the war, and was a brave and faith- 
ful soldier. He is a brother of Hon. J. B. Heiskell, of 

Very soon after the flight of Mr. Reeve, Robert K. Byrd, 
and others from Roane county, also left their homes as ex- 
iles. Gradually the disposition to leave spread through all 
the counties of East Tennessee. So, there came to be a 
constant stream of refugees silently working their way by 
night, through the wide expanse of mountains separating 
East Tennessee from the thickly settled parts of Kentucky. 
Many of these left without any settled purpose as to what 
they were to do when they reached their destination. They 
fled from what they regarded as a present and terrible 

Bwming the Bridges. 369 

danger. Anything that could befall them was better than 
their condition at home. In Kentucky there would be at 
least freedom of opinion. At home, even the pure and ex- 
hilarating air wafted from the very mountain tops, now 
seemed tainted, and became hot and stifling to these sturdy 
sons of freedom. Soon there were thousands of these 
wanderers in Kentucky. Before autumn had passed away 
the First Tennessee Infantry, with Robert K. Byrd as 
Colonel, was organized and equipped. And then followed 
in rapid succession, the Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth and 
Sixth Regiments, and still others from time to time till the 
close of the war. 

The condition of the Union men remaining in East Ten- 
nessee was day by day becoming more disagreeable. Ar- 
rests and imprisonments had commenced. Dr. John W. 
Thomburgh and H. C. Jarvis, for no crime, except being 
Union men, were arrested and carried to Nashville for 
trial and imprisonment on a charge of treason, though 
that place was outside of and quite remote from the 
judicial district in which their alleged oflfenses were com- 
mitted. Both were afterwards members of the Tennessee 

It was now becoming evident that a reign of terror if not 
one of persecution had been inaugurated, and there was no 
safety for loyal men living in the country, except in flight. 
There were many good men in the secession party who did 
all they could to prevent this state of things. Unfortu- 
nately in civil revolutions the voice of justice and mercy 
is low and feeble, while the cry for vengeance is uttered 
in thunder tones. Those who would have protected the 
Union men, and they were many, were powerless. Violent 
men were in the ascendant. The wise and humane soon 
lost all influence. 

At an early day steps were taken to prevent the escape of 
Union men. Every pass in the mountains, on the Ken- 
tucky border, was occupied and guarded. Confederate 

370 East Teaneaaee and the Civil War. 

soldiers constantly patrolled the foot of the mountains 
from the base of the Blue Ridge, in Virginia, to the 
western slope of the Cumberland, in Middle Tennessee. 
But men fleeing for freedom were alert and lynx-eyed. 
Darkness would creep over the mountains, and while the 
Confederate soldiers slept, or dozed at their posts, cunning 
guides, wide awake and soft of tread as panthers, were 
leading the refugees in silence along some unexpected 
way, or scaling beetling steeps, impassable except to men 
whose lives depend on present strength, coolness and 
daring. Thus Camp Dick Robinson, the place of rendez* 
vous, in Kentucky, was constantly recruited by East Ten- 
nessee exiles during the autumn of 1861. 

But still more stirring events were in waiting. As be- 
fore stated, William B. Carter, who had been an active 
and an able Union leader, left East Tennessee about the 
first of July, 1861, for the purpose of going North, to see 
what could be done for the relief of East Tennessee. 

Whatever may have been the scheme hidden away in 
his own bosom at that time, if there was any such, it is 
certain that before the months of autumn passed a daring 
one was agitating his restless mind. In September he 
went to Washington and was admitted to an interview 
with Mr. Lincoln, Mr. Seward and Gteneral McClellan, 
in reference to the relief of East Tennessee. He sug- 
gested to them a plan by which this relief could come. 
This was by the simultaneous destruction of all the 
bridges on the East Tennessee and Greorgia Railroad, and 
on the East Tennessee and Virginia road, between Bridge- 
port and Bristol, a distance of 270 miles, and also a long 
bridge over the Tennessee at Bridgeport, Alabama, on the 
Memphis and Charleston road. This was the main line 
connecting Memphis and Nashville with Richmond, by 
which the Confederate army in Virginia secured its sup- 
plies and re-enforcements. This road, or the several roads 
forming one main line, was deemed vital to the Southern 
cause. Simultaneously with the destruction of the bridges 

Burning the Bridges. 371 

on this important line, there was to be a military expedi- 
tion sent into East Tennessee. An army was to be con- 
centrated on the border of Tennessee, and was to move on 
Knoxville as soon as the bridges were destroyed, or rather, 
the two things were to be in process of execution at the 
same time, the object being to seize the road and con- 
trol it. 

Mr. Lincoln at once entered warmly into the scheme. 
Mr. Seward and Gteneral McClellan also approved it. The 
secretary of state furnished Mr. Carter $2,500 with which 
to secure the destruction of the bridges— certainly a very 
small sum for such an enterprise. General McClellan 
promised to aid in the movement by sending an army into 
East Tennessee as soon as possible. He said he would 
keep the Confederate army in Virginia so busy that it 
could not send troops to East Tennessee to aid in defend- 
ing its lines of communication.* He also said that the 
Federal army in Louisville would do the same in reference 
to the Confederate army in Middle Tennessee. 

An expedition into East Tennessee had early been a 
favorite idea with Mr. Lincoln. He seemed to possess in- 
tuitive military genius. Soon after the battle of Bull Run 
he made his celebrated ' 'memorandum'' as to military 
affairs, in which he suggested a military expedition from 
Cincinnati into East Tennessee. 

In the latter part of September, Mr. Lincoln went to the 
War Department, and left another memorandum, which 
was a quasi order, in which he said among other things : 

''On or about the 5th of October (the exact date to be 
determined hereafter) I wish a movement made to seize 
and hold a i)oint on the railroad connecting Virginia and 
Tennessee, near the mountain pass called 'Cumberland 

* The above facts were oommnnicated to me orally by Mr. Garter, Sep- 
tember 8, 1891, and very soon afterwards redaced to writing by me. 

* Cnmberland Gap is distant at the nearest point, aboat forty miles from 
the railroad which was to be seised, and sixty miles from Knoxville. 

372 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

In every possible way, Mr. Lincolii manifested his deep 
sympathy with the loyal people of East Tennessee. As 
early as August he selected General Robert Anderson, as 
we have seen, of Fort Sumter fame, to take charge of this 
enterprise. General Anderson was not only a brave and 
an able soldier, but he had the advantage of being a native 
of Kentucky, which seemed to give him peculiar fitness 
for command in a state where great tact, discretion and 
popularity were required at that time. Very soon also 
Samuel P. Carter, a lieutenant in the navy, was made a 
brigadier-general and sent to Kentucky. Gtoneral Carter 
was a brother of William B. Carter. The fact that he was 
a native of East Tennessee no doubt had much to do with 
his selection to aid in the contemplated expedition, for he 
knew much of the people as well as the country. His 
subsequent history during the war shows the wisdom of 
his selection.^ 

General Anderson retained his command only a short 
time. The strain on his nervous system during the bom- 
bardment of Sumter had been so great that he never re- 
covered from it. He found himself totally unfit for a com- 
mand beset with the perplexities and grave resi)onsibili- 
ties that he met in his native state. The Confederates 
under General Leonidas Polk had seized Columbus ; Gen- 
eral Buckner had just occupied Bowling Green, and Gen- 
eral F. K. Zollicoffer was in possession of Cumberland 
Gap, on the border of Tennessee and Kentucky. Thus 
they held a line in the southern part of Kentucky from the 
Mississippi to the Virginia border. General Anderson had 
no army. There were a few raw Tennessee recruits at 
Camp Dick Robinson, a few companies of home guards 
here and there; Colonel W. W. Woodruff had raised a 
regiment of Kentuckians, and General L. H. Rousseau 
had raised and organized his legion, consisting of two or 

^ He arose to the rank of major-genera], and bore an honorable part 
throughout the entu« war. At its close he returned to the navy, where he 
rose by successive grades to the rank of commodore. 

Bv/mmg the Bridges. 373 

three regiments, at Jelfersonyille, in the State of Indiana. 
There were probably other embryo regiments. With these 
inadequate forces, probably in all not amounting to 20,000 
men, he had to hold the country from the mouth of the 
Sandy to Paducah. In bad health and probably in despair 
at the disparity between the means at command and the 
magnitude of the work to be done, on the 8th of October, 
General Anderson relinquished his command, and turned 
it over to Gteneral W. T. Sherman. 

On the 5th of September, General Grant having discov- 
ered by a reconnoissance that Columbus was lost, quietly 
organized a force, and sailed up the Ohio River to the 
mouth of the Tennessee, at Paducah, which place he seized 
and fortified. The importance of this step may be seen 
from the letter of General Buckner to the war department, 
at Richmond, a few days later, in which he says : **Our 
possession of Columbus is already neutralized by that of 

By this time the loyal legislature of Kentucky, which 
had been elected in August, indignant at the invasion of 
her soil by armies claiming to act under the authority of a 
foreign government, abandoned the delusion of neutrality, 
and by unmistakable acts began to take sides with the 
Union. It was widely circulated that, on the 20th of Sep- 
tember, the state guards — ^the militia which Gtoneral Buck- 
ner had been organizing — ^would have a ^^camp drill" at 
Lexington. It was believed that this was to be a signal 
for a general rising of the Kentucky secessionists, who, 
aided by Buckner and ZoUicoffer's forces, were to seize 
Lexington, Frankfort and Louisville, and overthrow the 
legislature. The loyal members of that body, not trusting 
(Governor Beriah Magoffin, who was known to be a seces- 
sionist, requested General Thomas, at Camp Dick Robin- 
son, to send a regiment to Lexington, in advance of the 
advertised camp drill **fully prepared for a fight." Gen- 

> Nicolay & Hay's " Life of Lincoln," Vol. V, pp. 60, 51. 

374 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

eral Thomas sent Colonel Thomas E. Bramlette with his 
regiment, which reached the Lexington Fair Ground on 
the night of September 19th, the night before the proposed 
**drill." John C. Breckenridge, Humphrey Marshall, and 
other leaders, who were in Lexington to aid, no doubt, in 
the contemplated rising, were surprised and startled by the 
sudden appearance of Bramlette and his troops, and fled 
precipitately for safety from arrest. A few days after this 
affair, Breckenridge and William Preston made their ap- 
pearance in Knoxyille as refugees from their home in Ken- 
tucky, having come through the mountains by way of 
Cumberland Gap. Knoxyille soon became a kind of ren- 
dezvous for the young chivalry of the Blue Grass region. 
Not many months after this, the noted John Morgan, with 
his command, also made his appearance there. 

The situation in Kentucky, in October, 1861, was ex- 
tremely critical for the small Union forces in that state. 
Gteneral Sherman says: **It was manifest that the young 
men were generally inclined to the cause of the South, 
while the older men of property wanted to be let alone— 
i. «., to remain neutral." * 

He further says he was **all the time expecting that 
Sidney Johnston — ^who was a real general — ^would unite his 
forces with Zollicoffer, and fall on Thomas at Dick Robin- 
son, or McCook at Nolin. Had he done so in October, 1861, 
he would have walked into Louisville, and a vital part of 
the population would have hailed him as a deliverer. Why 
he did not, was to me a mystery then and is now ; for I 
know he saw the move, and had his wagons loaded at one 
time for a start toward Frankfort, passing between our 
two camps."* 

Such was the condition of military affairs in Kentucky, 
in November, 1861, when the plan of burning the bridges 
in Tennessee was put in execution. 

The general outlines of the attempt to bum the bridges 

» "Memoirs," Vol. I, p. 199. » Id., p. 200. 

Burning the Bridges. 376 

are briefly set forth in a report made to the house of repre- 
sentatives, January 30, 1891, by the committee on invalid 
pensions. That report says : 

*' Soon after General Gteorge H. Thomas took command 
of the United States forces in South-eastern Kentucky in 
September, 1861, he began preparations for a campaign, 
with Knoxville, Tennessee, as its objective point, hoping 
to be able to occupy and hold that city, thus cutting the 
railroad communications between Richmond and the South- 
west through East Tennessee. The importance of occupy- 
ing this section at that stage of the war, in a military 
point of view, was well understood, not only by General 
Thomas, but also by the President and Greneral McClellan, 
then commanding the army. This subject formed the 
basis of a conference in September, 1861, between General 
Thomas, (General S. P. Carter, Andrew Johnson and Hor- 
ace Maynard, of Tennessee, when the feasibility of the 
burning of the aforesaid railroad bridges was agreed 

*'The government had placed in the hands of Andrew 
Johnson a considerable sum of money, to be used in the 
defense of East Tennessee, and General Thomas expected 
to obtain from the former a sufficient amount to carry out 
the plan agreed upon. 

**But in this he was disappointed ; and being unwilling 
to abandon his campaign, dispatched one William B. 
Carter, a prominent Union man of that section, to Wash- 
ington, with a communication to Gtoneral McClellan re- 
garding this matter. The proposition received the favor- 
able consideration of the latter, as well as Secretary 
Seward and the President, and Mr, Carter returned to 
General Thomas' headquarters at Camp Dick Robinson, 
and soon received instructions to carry out the latter's 
plans, the details of which were left to Carter's judgment. 
Mr. Carter, accompanied by two army officers detailed for 
that purpose, entered upon his duties after a long and 
perilous journey, by selecting from the known Union men 

876 East Tmnessee and the Cvoil War. 

of the section through which the railroad ran six assist- 
ants, who in turn obtained a sufficient number of trusty 
persons to carry into execution the work before him. The 
night of November 8th was selected as the time when the 
destruction of the bridges should take place, and the pro- 
gramme was carried out to perfection at the appointed 

In the conversation with Mr. W. B. Carter, previously 
referred to, he said that he was present at an interview 
between Generals Sherman, Thomas and S. B. Garter, in 
the fall of 1861, presumably at Gamp Dick Robinson, in 
which the question of an expedition into East Tennessee 
in connection with the burning of bridges was fully dis- 
cussed. (General Sherman opposed the expedition and 
gave his reasons for his opposition. When he concluded. 
General Thomas presented his reasons for favoring the ex- 
pedition, and answered the objections offered by General 
Sherman. When he finished, Sherman, with manly hon- 
esty, confessed that Thomas had converted him to his 
views, and he accordingly ordered him (Thomas) **to push 
on an expedition." 

(General Sherman, in a letter published in the congres- 
sional report quoted above, dated February 21, 1890, ad- 
dressed probably to Mr. Carter, but the report is silent on 
this point, says : 

**. . . The movement on Knoxville in 1861 was a di- 
vergent one at first, and was by me afterwards changed to 
one of concentration, when Thomas was recalled, after 
having gone but a short distance." 

Soon after this, as we shall see more fully hereafter. 
General Sherman changed his mind as to the expediency 
of this * 'divergent movement," as he called it. (General 
Thomas, from the first, was greatly, indeed earnestly, in 
favor of it. On every suitable occasion, he urged the 
matter on the attention of his superiors ; first on Ander- 
son, while he was in command ; then on Sherman, his suc- 
cessor. On October 4th, he asked General Anderson for 

Burning the Bridges. 377 

^^four good regiments, with transportation and ammuni- 
tion." He said that, if he could get such a force, and be 
ready to march in ten days from that time, he could seize 
the railroad at Knoxville. 

In somewhat curious contrast to the foregoing, GU>yemor 
Harris, of Tennessee, was calling at that yery time on the 
Confederate secretary of war for ** twelve or fourteen thou- 
sand men" for East Tennessee, to crush out the rebellion 
there, which he thought '^could be done, without firing 
a gun, while a smaller force may involye us in scenes of 
blood that will take long years to heal." 

In a letter of Thomas to Sherman, dated November 
6th, he once more asked for four regiments, with which to 
invade East Tennessee. After the consultation between 
these two Oenerals in October, which resulted in Sherman 
directing Thomas to proceed with his expedition into East 
Tennessee, the latter made preparations to carry out what 
he so much desired. 

At the time agreed upon. General Thomas was to be on 
the border of Tennessee, perhaps at Cumberland Gap, or 
south of it, with his army, and was, on the burning of the 
bridges, to make a hurried march to Knoxville and seize 
the railroads. On the 18th or 19th of October, Mr. Carter 
left Camp Dick Robinson for East Tennessee, to execute his 
part of the important movement. Thomas was to leave 
his camp with his army about the 22d or 23d. In the 
meantime (General Zollicoffer made an advance with his 
army in the direction of Wild Cat, about forty-five miles 
south of Camp Dick Robinson. This advance of Zollicoffer 
rendered it necessary for Thomas to set out three or four 
days earlier than he expected.^ He met Zollicoffer at Wild 
Cat, where a sharp little fight took place, in which Zolli- 
coffer was repulsed and driven back. Thomas, with his 
little army of only a few regiments, then moved on to 
London, about fifty-five miles south of Dick Robinson, on 

' Manoacript letter of W. B. Carter, of September 15, 1891, to author. 

378 Eaat Tennessee and the Civil War, 

his way toward Knoxville. Here he was arrested in his 
march by command of (General Sherman, and ordered to 
retrace his steps, which he most reluctantly did. 

Thus the expedition into East Tennessee, for the relief 
of the loyal people, was indefinitely postponed. General 
Sherman, in the letter already quoted, speaks of the time 
' Vhen Thomas was recalled after haying gone but a short 
distance." Sherman was too brave and frank for any con- 
cealment about his actions or opinions. He was at first 
favorable to this enterprise. Then he changed his mind 
and revoked his order to Thomas to advance. In fact, his 
policy, as avowed by himself, was one of * 'concentration,** 
with the view of operating in the direction of Columbus 
and Bowling Green. In a letter, dated February 3, 1862, 
addressed to the Hon. John Sherman, published in the 
**Gentury,** for January, 1893, he says: * 'Until these 
places (Bowling Green and Columbus) are reduced it will 
not do to advance far into Tennessee, and I doubt if it will 
be done. East Tennessee can not exercise much influence 
on the final result. West Tennessee is more important, as 
without the navigation of the Mississippi all commercial 
interests will lean to the Southern cause. . . ." 

When General Thomas was halted at London in his 
movement toward Knoxville, Mr. W. B. Carter, as we have 
seen, had been in East Tennessee several days. He was 
too far off to receive news of the change of plans. Indeed, he 
was at that very time engaged in making his final arrange- 
ments for the destruction of the bridges. It was too late 
to countermand his orders. His agents were already at 
or near their respective points of duty, only waiting for the 
appointed night to arrive. Even if a message could have 
reached Mr. Carter, it was too late to arrest those selected 
to bum the bridges. Carter was in fact profoundly igno- 
rant of the change of plans, and knew nothing of this un- 
til his return from Tennessee to Kentucky, several days 
after the time fixed for their execution. 

There were nine important bridges which were included 

Burning the Bridges. 379 

in the plan of destruction. Two of these, the one over 
the Tennessee at Loudon, and the other over the Ten- 
nessee at Bridgeport, Alabama, on the Nashville and Chat- 
tanooga and also on the Memphis and Charleston roads, 
were very long and costly structures. The others were 
not so valuable. Five of the nine were destroyed. These 
were the bridges over the Holston, at Union Depot, that 
over Lick Creek west of Greene ville, one over the Hiwassee 
River at Charleston, Tennessee, and two over Chickamauga 
Creek, not far from Chattanooga. 

The entire execution of the plan for their destruction was 
left to the discretion of Mr. Carter. As we have seen, two 
officers of the army, namely, Captain William Cross and 
Captain David Fry, of Greene county, Tennessee, were de- 
tailed to aid him. He selected in the neighborhood of each 
of the bridges to be burned, a leader for the work to be 
done in that neighborhood, and these leaders selected their 
own assistants, generally five or six more persons. Mr. 
Carter himself came to Emory River at the house of a Mr. 
Crow, near Mr. De Armond's, two or three miles from 
Kingston. He was the very man for such an enterprise — 
cool, cunning, sagacious and brave. 

But few of the persons connected with these daring en- 
terprises were ever found out by the public. At the time, 
and for nearly two years afterwards, the danger of punish- 
ment by the Confederate authorities constituted a sufficient 
reason for the concealment of their names. But that reason 
long since ceased to have any force. And yet their names, 
with few exceptions, are unknown to the public to-day. 
Mr. Carter can not reveal them, being bound by honor 
not to do so.^ But the others are not under the same bond 
of secrecy. I have succeeded in getting most of the names, 
with permission from those still living to publish them. 

The destruction of the bridges in lower East Tennessee, 
from the Hiwassee River to Bridgeport, was wisely left to 

^ Manuscript letter of April 11, 1895. 

880 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

the sole discretion of Mr. A. M. Gate, of Bradley county, 
subsequently a state senator. He was a prudent, sagacious 
man, and a citizen of high character and standing. EQb 
four different enterprises were managed with such admira- 
ble skill and secrecy that for thirty-five years no one oyer 
suspected him of any agency in them. Until quite re- 
cently the matter was as great a mystery in that region as 
it was the next morning after it occurred. 

The great bridge over the Tennessee, at Bridgeport, was 
to have been burned by R. B. Rogan and James D. 
Keener. They went to the bridge, but, finding it heavily 
guarded by Confederate soldiers, abandoned the attempt 
and returned home. Mr. Keener still lives and resides 
near Chattanooga. Mr. W. T. Cate, a brother of A. M. 
Cate, and W. H. Crowder alone burned the two bridges 
over Chickamauga Creek, which were very close together, 
one on the East Tennessee and Oeorgia road, and the 
other on the Western and Atlantic. The bridge over the 
Hiwassee River was burned by A. M. Cate, the general 
leader, by Adam Thomas, Jesse F. Cleveland and his son 
Eli, and by Thomas L. Cate, a brother of A. M. Cate. 
All these are dead, except Thomas L. Cate, who lives in 
Cleveland, Tennessee, but is engaged in banking in Chat- 
tanooga. He stands deservedly high every way, and be- 
longs to one of the largest and most influential families in 
East Tennessee. If there were any peculiar or exciting 
incidents connected with the destruction of either of these 
bridges, I have no information on the subject. As far as 
I have gone, the facts given are absolutely authentic. No 
one of these persons has ever been suspected even by 
their best friends.^ There must have been admirable 
sagacity and discretion in the execution of these hazardous 
and daring enterprises. Mr. A. M. Cate displayed in them 
qualities fitted for a successful general in the field. 

After the most diligent inquiry, extending through two 

^ Quite recently a pamphlet has been published giving an account of the 
burning of these bridges. 

Burning the Bridgea. 881 

or three years, I have not been able to obtain any reliable 
information in reference to the long bridge over the Ten- 
nessee at Loudon. No one in the vicinity seems to know 
anything about any attempt haying been made to bum 
that structure. Mr. Carter knows, but declines to disclose 
any names. That bridge was the second in importance 
of all the nine doomed to destruction. It was included in 
the plan, and persons were selected to destroy it, and no 
doubt they made some kind of an attempt to carry out 
their orders. But who were these persons? 

From certain information I have obtained, I think it 
probable that Captain William Cross, of Scott county, 
was detailed to bum this bridge. If so, finding it 
guarded, he probably made no effort to do so. He died 
several years ago. While alive he seems to have been 
reticent about it, as A. M. Cate and his associates always 
were. I cannot ascertain that he ever told anyone that he 
was connected with an attempt to destroy this bridge, 
though he did tell his family that he was connected with 
bridge burning. 

The next bridge on the line was the one on the Holston, 
at Strawberry Plains, fifteen miles east of Knoxville. Will- 
iam C. Pickens, of Sevier county, was the leader selected 
to destroy this bridge. He was a bold, dashing, reckless, 
good-natured fellow, who delighted in just such adventures 
as this. His associates were Daniel M. Bay, James Mont- 
gomery, Abe Smith, B. F. Franklin, White Underdown, 
William Montgomery, Elijah Gamble, and a father and 
a son — ^the son objecting to the mention of either his 
father ^s or his own name. All these men were from 
Sevier county. They made no careful examination of the 
premises in advance, and seemed to have known but little 
about it. If they had known the fact that a guard was 
stationed at the eastern end of the bridge, doubtless the 
attempt would have been made at the other end. 

I have conversed with two of the men engaged in this 
enterprise, and read the account given by a third, and they 

382 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

somewhat differ as to details, but agree as to the main 

Haying left their horses in charge of two of their num- 
ber, they approached the bridge by going along the bank 
of the river until they reached the abutment. There two 
or more of the party scrambled up to the top of the 
bridge, when Pickens struck a light. No sooner had he 
done this than the sharp crack of a gun rang out on 
the night air, and Pickens fell wounded in the thigh. 
Thereupon, James Keelin, the guardsman, seized him, 
and a desperate struggle ensued. One of the Montgomerys, 
seeing this struggle, rushed to the assistance of his com- 
panion with a huge home-made knife twelvB or fifteen 
inches long. In the darkness, the light having gone out, 
mistaking Pickens for Keelin, he commenced cutting him 
with blind fury. With one blow he nearly severed his 
hand from his arm, and probably inflicted other wounds. 
By this time others had gotten upon the bridge ; Keelin 
was shot, or was supposed to be, and was either thrown 
down the embankment or rolled down it, supposed by those 
above to have been killed. This was a mistake, for no 
sooner did he touch the earth below than he sprang to his 
feet, and ran for safety as fast as he could, two of the 
party who were still below firing their guns at him as he 

Now the party was in possession of the bridge. But to 
their consternation, when they sought for matches, not one 
could be found. Pickens had the only matches brought 
by the party, and when the gun was fired, or in the 
subsequent struggle, the box containing them fell from his 
hands and dropped below. So, no fire could be applied to 
the bridge. It was proposed by some one to go to some of 
the neighboring houses and procure fire, but it was plain 
that this would be the means of advertising who they 
were. All that remained for them to do was to abandon 
the enterprise. This they reluctantly did at last. Though 
Pickens was wounded in two or more places, he was too 

Burning the Bridges. 383 

plucky to give up. He wa9 mounted behind a companion 
and the party rode off to Dan. Keener^s, several miles 
away, where they spent the next day, and where medical 
assistance was procured. Here he was placed on a sled, 
concealed with com fodder, and hauled back into the moun- 
tains, where he remained with occasional changes of place of 
concealment, until the following January, when he and his 
associates were piloted across the mountains into Ken- 
tucky. Here he and others raised the Third Tennessee 
Cavalry, and he became its first colonel. Dr. Jas. H. 
Ellis, of Trundles' X Roads, a worthy gentleman and a 
good physician, from whom I obtained a part of my infor- 
mation, dressed the wounds of Pickens the next day after 
the attempt on the bridge, at the house of Keener, and 
attended him afterwards. 

There has been much sensational matter published in 
reference to this attempt to bum the Strawberry Plains 
bridge. Keelin became a great hero in the South for the 
time being. It was represented that he alone had resisted 
and driven off a whole company — an indefinite number of 
men — and had nearly cut Pickens to pieces. There is no 
question as to the heroic defense of the bridge made by 
him, and in one sense he alone saved it. But notwith- 
standing his bravery, the bridge would have been de- 
stroyed in spite of him, but for the loss of the box of 
matches. Keelin only recently died at Bristol, Tennes- 
see. Colonel Pickens died a few years after the close of 
the war. 

Of the men engaged in the enterprise, two of them be- 
came colonels in the Federal army, D. M. Bay, of the Second 
Tennessee Cavalry, and W. C. Pickens, of the Third; W. 
W. Montgomery, J. A. Montgomery and one other became 
captains; White Underdown and Elijah Gamble became 
lieutenants, and another became a sergeant. 

The foregoing is a substantially correct account of this 
affair as given by the survivors. 

I copy from the statement of Colonel Bay an account 

384 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

of their treatment while ia the mountains by the good 
Union men : 

''While in this mountain retreat they" (the party of 
bridge burners) **were joined by Parson Brownlow and 
Rev. James Cummings, who were compelled to flee from 
their homes on account of their Union sentiments. Every 
member of this little band of fugitives should ever re- 
member with feelings of gratitude the loyal citizens of 
Weir's Cove. Every man, woman and child^ there was 
true to their country's flag, and during the dark hour of 
danger when they were in hiding, carried provisions and 
kept them supplied with everything they needed." 

The next bridge marked for destruction was the one 
over Lick Creek, in Greene county, fifteen miles west of 
Greeneville. This stream is long and narrow, with broad, 
flat, marshy meadow lands on either bank. Its water is 
turbid and sluggish. It has become famous by reason 
of the facts that connected with its name there were five 
lamentable tragedies early in the Civil War which will 
never be forgotten. 

Captain David Fry, of the Second Tennessee Infantry, was 
the leader of the party which burned this bridge. He was 
a brave, daring man, just suited for such an undertaking. 
It is very difficult to ascertain certainly who his assistants 
were, because all of them are dead, five of them having died 
on the gallows soon afterwards. It is, however, almost cer- 
tain that Jacob Harmon and his son, Thomas Harmon, Jacob 
M. Hensie, Henry Fry, Hugh A. Self, A. C. Hawn and 
Harrison Self were with Captain Fry at the burning of the 
bridge. I have heard of no striking incident immediately 
connected with its destruction. 

There were two bridges on the extreme eastern end of 
the railroad line that were selected for destruction. These 
were, the one over the Holston at Union Depot, now called 
Bluff City, within a few miles of the Virginia line at 
Bristol ; the other the one over the Watauga at Carter's 
Depot, in Carter county. The leader selected to destroy 


Bwming thfi Bridges. 385 

these bridges was Daniel Stover, the son-in-law of Andrew 
Johnson, afterwards Colonel of the Fourth Tennessee In- 
fantry. I have the names of these men, but the list is long, 
and I do not feel that I have sufficient authority to publish 
them, though most of their names are already known in 
that region of country. 

Only one of these bridges, the one over the Holston, was 
destroyed. The other was guarded by Captain David 
McClelland's company of Confederate Infantry, and the 
attempt at its destruction was therefore abandoned. 
There was a guard of two men at the Watauga bridge. 
These were easily overpowered and captured. Their lives 
were spared on the promise that they would not reveal 
the names of the men who burned the bridge. Yet they 
went away and disclosed the names of all whom they 

Soon the news spread that the men engaged in this en- 
terprise had been identified under oath, and that they 
were to be arrested and hung as bridge burners. These 
brave men, the descendants of the men who planted the 
banner of civilization on the Watauga-M>n the very spot 
where they then were— nearly one hundred years before, 
were not such base and cowardly spirits as to quietly sub- 
mit to such a thing. With the high metal of the Seviers, 
the Tiptons, the Shelbys and the Robertsons, they deter- 
mined once more to make the Watauga famous with heroic 
deeds. By the next night, many men were under arms. 
The next day, one thousand were assembled at the cele- 
brated revolutionary rendezvous at the Sycamore Shoals. 
Soon nearly all the available men in Carter county were 
present, and a number of companies from Johnson had 
arrived, all animated by the same spirit which brought to- 
gether on that spot their fathers on the 25th of September, 
1780. A partial organization was effected by the election 
of L. Williams as colonel. In a day or two, however, a 
new organization was effected by the election of J. S. K. 

386 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

Boyd as colonel, and Daniel Stover as lieutenant-colonel. 
While stationed at Sycamore Shoals, or Taylor's Ford, 
pickets were sent out toward Carter's Depot, who encoun- 
tered the advance of the enemy and fired on it. The latter 
fled to the depot, and when they reported to Captain 
McClellan, he retreated also. That night the Union men 
were attacked by the enemy and the latter repulsed. 

The next day, the Union forces, knowing that heavy 
Confederate reinforcements were on their way and arriving, 
retreated, by way of Big Spring, to Elizabethton. From 
this point, the Union men went to Doe River Cove, six 
miles south of Elizabethton, where they went into camp 
and remained two weeks. Finally, the Confederate forces, 
under Qeneral Leadbetter, broke up this camp, and the men 
fled to the mountains. A few were captured, but most of 
them hid in the mountains until they had a chance to fol- 
low their own matchless pilot and leader, Daniel Ellis, to 
Kentucky, where they could enter the Union army. Some 
waited until the Federal army came in, and they were thus 
set free from their mountain imprisonment.^ 

All this demonstration of a spirit of resistance on the 
part of the people of Carter and Johnson counties, in a 
military point of view, amounted to nothing. But as a 
manifestation of the determination of the people never to 
yield, nor submit to the rule of the Southern Confederacy, 
it amounted to a great deal. In this respect it was equal 
to a Union victory. It showed, too, what these brave 
mountain men would become when trained, drilled and led 
by such skillful leaders as Colonel John K. Mill^, one of 
their own people. 

Very similar to the action of the Union men of Carter 
and Johnson was that of the people of Sevier county. 

Hearing of the burning of the bridges, and some of 
them believing that this was the forerunner of the entrance 

> For the foregoing facts, I am under obligations to Mr. C. P. Toncry ; 
also to the letters of Captain Daniel Ellis, published in the ''National 

Burning the Bridges, 387" 

of the Federal army, they too assembled to the number of 
four hundred, armed as best they could, and marched 
toward Strawberry Plains. They proceeded as far as 
Underdown's Ferry, on the French Broad, where they re- 
mained thirty-four hours or longer, skirmishing and keep- 
ing at bay a Confederate force on the north bank of the 
stream. Finally, they fell back and scattered to their 
homes, some of them having been arrested in doing so. 
These demonstrations on the part of the Union people of 
these counties created the wildest alarm in Knoxville and 
elsewhere among the Confederate authorities, as we shall 
presently see. 

The attempt to bum these bridges at this time, and its 
partial success, was, in my opinion, from every point of 
view, as I shall hereafter try to show, most unwise and 
unfortunate. It did but little injury to the enemy, while 
it brought untold calamities and sufferings on the Union 

* I 

3$8 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 



Alann caused by burning the bridgeB— Telegn^hic meeBagea— A general 
upriaing expected — Confederate troops sent to East Tennessee — Union 
men arrested^Benjamin's order— Five bridge burners hanged— Ooari- 
martial organized— Judges Brown and Humphreys interpose— Con- 
demnation of Harrison Self— His dauij^ter appeals to Mr. Davis— Hu- 
mane conduct of latter — Union men sent to prison at Tuscaloosa — 
Noble conduct of Confederate officers— Bridge burning condemned — 
Political arrests condemned. 

The news of the burning of the bridges, in East Ten- 
nessee, came upon the country on the morning of Novem- 
ber 9, 1861, like the sound of a fire-bell at night, so sud- 
den and imexpected was it. The Southern Oonfederacy 
was startled and stirred from end to end. Men awoke 
frightened as if by a horrible dream. Universal consterna- 
tion prevailed in East Tennessee. Other and greater ca- 
lamities were expected to follow immediately. The mili- 
tary authorities and railroad officials were thrown into a 
wild and unreasonable panic. They hastened to and fro, 
and stormed and issued orders, as if they had just lost a 
decisive battle. Confederate citizens of Knoxville, as the 
Rev. Colonel W. B. Wood, of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church South, informed (General Samuel Cooper, com- 
menced ' 'finding places of safety for their families, ^^ and 
in some cases for themselves also I 

John K. Branner, president of the East Tennessee and 
Virginia Railroad, telegraphed to J. P. Benjamin that: 
**Two large bridges on my road were burned last night 
about 12 o'clock ; also one bridge on the East Tennessee 
and Gteorgia Railroad (there were, in fact, two) . There 
is great excitement along the whole line of road, and evi- 
dence that the Union party are organizing to destroy or 

ExecuHans and Imprisorvments. 386 

take possession of the whole line from Bristol to Chatta- 
nooga.'* . . . 

Qeneral A. 8. Johnston telegraphed (Jovemor Harris 
from Bowling Green: "From our information, the de- 
struction of the railroad and the telegraphs near Chatta- 
nooga, Cleveland and Dalton can not be the work of the 
enemy's troops, but of the disaffected in North Alabama 
and East Tennessee/' . . • 

General Zollicoffer telegraphed to General Samuel 
Cooper from Jacksborough : **Colonel Wood, of Kiiox- 
yille, writes that last night Hiawassee bridge and two 
other bridges near Chattanooga were burned." • . . 

J. W. Lewis, "superintendent of the East Tennessee and 
Virginia Railroad" (that must have been the Western At- 
lantic road), telegraphed to Jefferson Davis from Cleve- 
land, Tennessee : "Several bridges burned on East Ten- 
nessee road. The country in great excitement and ter- 
ror." . . . 

The Rev. Colonel W. B. Wood telegraphed on the 11th 
to Adjutant-General Cooper from Kiioxville: "Three 
bridges burned between Bristol and Chattanooga, and two 
on G^tgia road. Five himdred Union men now threat- 
ening Strawberry Plains ; fifteen hundred assembling in 
Hamilton county, and a general uprising in all the coun« 
ties." . . .. 

On the same day. Colonel Wood wrote to General Cooper : 
. . . "The whole country is now in a state of rebellion. 
A thousand men are within six miles of Strawberry Plains 
bridge, and an attack is contemplated to-morrow. . . . 
Five hundred Unionists left Hamilton to-day, we suppose, 
to attack Loudon bridge (eighty miles distant). An 
attack was made yesterday on Watauga. ... I need 
not say that great alarm is felt by the few Southern men. 
I have had all the arms in this city seized. • • • I felt 
it to be my duty to place this city under martial law, as 
there was a large majority of the people sympathizing with 

390 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

the enemy, and communicating with them by the unfre^ 
quented mountain paths." . • • 

On the 12th, Governor Harris wrote to Jefferson Davis 
from Nashville as follows : **The burning of the railroad 
bridges in East Tennessee shows a deep-seated spirit of 
rebellion in that section. Union men are organizing. The 
rebellion must be crushed out instantly, the leaders ar- 
rested and summarily punished. I shall send immediately 
about ten thousand men to that section. If you can pos- 
sibly send from Western Virginia a number of Tennessee 
regiments to East Tennessee, we can at once repair the 
bridges and crush the rebellion." . . • 

General Zollicoffer, in a letter to Colonel Wood, of 
November 12th, from Jacksborough, said: **I will to- 
morrow send dispatches to the forces near Jamestown, the 
cavalry near Huntsville, that near Olivers, and start out 
the cavalry here to commence simultaneously disarming^ 
the Union inhabitants. You will please simultaneously 
send orders to all detachments under your command to 
inaugurate the same movement at the same time in their 
various localities. The leaders should be seized and held 
as prisoners. The leniency shown them has been unavail* 
ing. They have acted with base duplicity and should na 
longer be trusted." 

J. P. Benjamin, under date of November 13th, tele* 
graphed to John R. Branner: * 'Troops are now moving 
to East Tennessee to crush the traitors. . . ." 

General Zollicoffer on the 14th, telegraphed from Jacks- 
borough to Gteneral Cooper: **I have ordered all posts 
and detachments to disarm Union men and seize leaders. 
Have made dispositions to cut off and crush tories of 
Rhea, Hamilton and Sevier." 

On November 25, J. P. Benjamin, secretary of war, 
wrote the following instructions to Colonel W. B. Wood, at 
Knoxville : 

**Sir, your report of the 20th instant is received, and I 

Executions and ImpriaonmerUa. 391 

proceed to give you the desired instructions in relation to 
the prisoners taken by you amongst the traitors in East 
Tennessee. First, all such as can be identified as having 
been engaged in bridge burning are to be tried summarily by 
drum-head court-martial, and if found guilty, executed on 
the spot by hanging. It would be well to leave their bodies 
hanging in the vicinity of the burned bridges. Second, 
all such as have not been so engaged are to be treated as 
prisoners of war, and sent with an armed guard to Tusca- 
loosa, Alabama, there to be kept imprisoned at the depot 
selected by the government for prisoners of war. Wherever 
you can discover that arms are concealed by these traitors, 
you will send out detachments, search for and seize the 
arms. In no case is one of the men known to have been 
up in arms against the government to be released on 
any pledge or oath of allegiance. The time for such 
measures is past. They are idl to be held as prisoners of 
war and held in jail till the end of the war. Such as come 
in voluntarily, take the oath of allegiance, and surrender 
their arms, are alone to be treated with leniency. 

Your vigilant execution of these orders is earnestly 
urged by the government. 

Your obedient servant, 

J. P. BsNJAiiiN, Secretary of Wa/r. 

p. S.— Judge (David T.) Patterson, Colonel (Samuel) 
Pickens, and other ringleaders of the same class must be 
sent at once to Tuscaloosa to jail as prisoners of war. 

J. P. B." 

In another book, not yet in press, I have spoken of the 
honorable conduct of Mr. Benjamin in his treatment of 
Mr. Brownlow in 1862. I regret that the spirit of this 
letter does not merit similar commendation. 

It will be observed that all such as could be identified 
as having been * 'engaged in bridge burning" were to be 

392 East Tennessee and the CivU War, 

*Hried summarilj by drum-head court-martial, and if 
found guilty were to be executed on the spot by hanging. 
It would be well to leave their bodies hanging in the 
vicinity of the burned bridges." In a letter of the same 
date to J. C. Ramsey, Confederate States district attorney, 
he said he hoped **to hear they have hung every bridge 
burner at the end of the burned bridges." 

As to the second class, Mr. Benjamin said: '*A11 such 
as have not been so engaged (that is, in bridge burning) 
are to be treated as prisoners of war, and sent with an 
armed guard to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, there to be kept as 
prisoners of war." All such as had not been engaged in 
bridge bun^ng, whether guilty of any other offense or not, 
by the words of this letter, were to be sent to Tuscaloosa, 
and that, too, without trial or examination. It was not 
sufficient that they had been suspected and arrested. 
They must be hurried off to this prison of such ill-fame. 
Perhaps Mr. Benjamin did not mean all he said. Per- 
haps he meant all such ^'as have been guilty of taking up 
arms are to be sent off as prisoners of war." 

After the lapse of more than a third of a century, in the 
light of published history, we can to-day understand what 
was a mystery in 1861-62 to those of us who so frequently 
saw or knew of long lines of wasted Union men, many of 
them three score and ten years of age, and some only mere 
boys, being driven through our streets on their way to the 
•cars which were to carry them to Tuscaloosa. It was in 
obedience to this order of Mr. Benjamin that the prisons 
of the South were filled with Union men. His agents, in 
the form of military companies, were scattered over all 
the counties of East Tennessee, gathering in these de- 
tested ^Hraitors" to be sent to the prison at Tuscaloosa. 

At the very time Mr. Lincoln was being denounced as a 
tyrant by Southern orators and papers, for proclaiming 
martial law, and suspending the writ of habeas earptAS in 
certain places in the North, Mr. Benjamin was instructing 

Exectitions and Imprisonments. 39S 

Colonel R. P. Looney, at Knozville, Tennessee, November 
30, 1861, as follows : 

* 'Courts of justice have no power to take prisoners of 
war out of the hands of the military, nor to interfere with 
the disposal of such prisoners by the military. An an- 
swer to a writ of habeas corpus that the prisoner was 
captured in arms against the government, and is held as 
a prisoner of war is a good and complete answer to the 
writ. Send this dispatch to General Carroll, and let him 
fiend at once all the prisoners to jail at Tuscaloosa as 
prisoners of war, except those found guilty of bridge 
burning and murdering the guards placed at the bridges. 
Let not one of these treacherous murderers escape. 

J. P. Bbnjamik, Secretary of WarJ*^ 

^'Let him send at once," says he, ''all the prisoners to 
jail at Tuscaloosa as prisoners of war.'' Of course, there 
was, and there could be, under this order, no examination, 
no trial. The order was imperative. We now see why so 
many were sent off. 

The military courts were at once opened as he directed. 
On the SOih of November, the following dispatch was sent 
to Mr. Benjamin : 

'^Hbabquabtbrs, Gbbbkbvillb, 

November 30, 1861. 
"Two insurgents have to day been tried for bridge 
burning, found guilty and hanged. 

D. Lbadbbttbr, Colonel.^ ^ 

The men thiM executed were Jacob M. Hensie and Henry 
Pry. How they had eluded arrest for burning lick Creek 
bridge up to this time it is difficult to explain. It will be 
observed that the trial and the execution both took place 
on the same day. The truth is, after the mere form of a 
trial, they were at once led out for execution. They were 
swung from the projecting limb of a tree which stood 
North of the railroad and the depot in Greene ville. This 

394 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

was in full sight of the railroad and of the trains as thejr 
passed. The bodies of these poor fellows were left swing- 
ing from the tree for about twenty-four hours before they 
were taken down. The wish of Mr. Benjamin, expressed 
in his letter to Mr. Ramsey, that they should be hung 
at **the end of the burned bridge," could not be gratified 
in this case, for the bridge was gone, and the place where 
it had stood was fifteen miles away. 

Colonel Leadbetter was a native of Maine, who had 
been educated at West Point at the expense of the United 
States, and had taken an oath to support the constitution. 
It is said that he fell in love with a refined lady of the 
South and married her. As he was a Northern man it 
was necessary for him, in order to escape suspicion, to 
manifest extra zeal in behalf of his newly-espoused cause. 

On the 10th of December, a court-martial at Knoxville, 
convicted A. C. Haun of bridge burning, and ordered him 
t6 be hung. The sentence was approved by Wm. H. Car- 
roll, ^^Brigadier-Greneral Commanding," and the time 
of execution fixed for 12 o'clock the same day. Again 
Mr. Benjamin, on the same day, directs the commander 
to ^^execute the sentence of your court-martial on the 
bridge burners." Haun was accordingly executed at 
Knoxville at the time fixed. 

In the meantime there was a little friction in the move- 
ments of the Confederate machinery, between the civil and 
the military departments. Gleorge Brown, a state circuit 
court judge of the Knoxville circuit, an able jurist, and 
an ardent Southern man, having old fashioned notions of 
law, would occasionally issue a writ of habeas corpus in 
favor of Union men held in custody. Judge West H. 
Humphreys also, of the Confederate States district court, 
out of the goodness of his heart, sometimes went so far as 
to hear these cases, and turn these men loose, on their 
executing bond and taking an oath of good behavior. 

This obstructive policy was very annoying to Generals 
Carroll and Leadbetter. (General Carroll, then in com- 

Executions and Imprisonments. 395 

mand of East Tennessee, said \n a letter to Mr. Benjamin, 
dated December 11, 1861 : 

. . . '*! have been greatly annoyed by the interfer- 
ence of the civil authorities with what I conceive the 
proper and faithful discharge of the duties incumbent 
upon me in my capacity of military commander of this 
portion of East Tennessee." • • • He said several 
attempts had been made to take offenders out of his 
hands, by judicial process, etc. To avoid these little 
annoyances, he informed Mr. Benjamin that he had placed 
the city under martial law. In his order he said the time 
had come for the adoption of the '^sternest measures of 
military policy,*' and therefore he suspends **for a time 
the functions of the civil tribunals." In his letter to Mr. 
Benjamin, he informs that officer that, in addition to the * 
cases already disposed of, he had still in confinement, 
awaiting trial by military tribunals, about one hundred 
and fifty more prisoners. He said that if after these are 
tried ^*any should remain whose offenses come legitimately 
under the jurisdiction of the civil courts he will turn them 
over to the proper officers." 

J. C. Ramsey, the Confederate States district attorney, 
all alive to share in any good work for the Confederate 
cause, seeing that he was deprived of any hand in the dis- 
posal of prisoners, telegraphed to Mr. Benjamin, almost in 
a wail of dispair, asking : **What shall I do?" With Car- 
roll and Leadbetter and their courts-martial and simimary 
proceedings, what could he do? 

All these things were, however, very disgusting to the 
zealous Leadbetter, who assumed command when Oeneral 
Carroll moved with the army to the front to take part in 
the battle of Fishing Creek. Carroll had organized a reg- 
ular court-martial, which had already condemned forty-nine 
persons to imprisonment during the war, besides those 
condemned to death. But this did not satisfy the impatient 
Leadbetter. He informs Gleneral S. Cooper, January 7, 
1862, that there were then confined in Knoxville 130 po- 

896 EoBt Tennessee and the CivU War. 

litical prisoners. The number had * 'lately been increas- 
ing,*' and others it was expected would be * 'captured soon.'* 
He could not see *'how the court-martial was to keep pace 
with the exigencies of the occasion." Acting under this 
conviction he said : *'I shall dissolve the court-martial con- 
vened by General Carroll on its determination of the few 
purely military cases yet to be tried, and shall proceed 
with the political offenders as I have heretofore done at 

It will be remembered how speedily he had disposed of 
Hensie and Fry at Greeneville. Court-martials were too 
slow for him. They did not "keep pace with the exigen- 
cies of the occasion." 

But it seems that Judges Brown and Humphreys, with 
their stubborn old-fashioned ways, still continued to issue 
writs in favor of Union men. In view of these obstructions 
to his summary proceedings, Leadbetter appealed to Mr. 
Benjamin for instructions and guidance in his new em- 
barrassments, but it does not seem that he received any. 

A milder policy was expected of General Carroll. He 
had a noble name behind him. His father was a soldier 
of renown. In all of General Jackson's campaigns he was 
the right arm of the iron general. He had been for six 
years the honored chief magistrate of Tennessee. His 
career was full of honor and glory, and only mild conduct 
was expected of his son in the treatment of the sons of 
the old friends of his father. However bitter Southern 
officers might be, they were at all times expected to beaf 
themselves, especially toward the weak and unfortunate, 
as gentlepien. And this they generally did.^ 

In order to preserve the advantage of a continuous nar- 

1 It is only just to the memorj of QeaenX CurroU to add, and I most 
cheerfully do 00, that it somewhere appears in the voluminous correspond- 
ence of that time, that he could not manifest, in his treatment of Unioii 
men his real feeUngpi of kindness and mercy, because of positive instreo* 
tions from Eichmond. This was probably so. 

Executions and Imprisonments. 897 

rative of the events connected with the administrations of 
General Carroll and General Leadbetter, I have run 
ahead of the order of some of the facts, to which I now 

Harrison Self was the next man tried and conyicted of 
the lick Creek bridge burning. The sentence was ap- 
proved by General Carroll, and the time of his execution 
fixed for the 26th of December, 1861, at 4 p. m. Much in* 
terest was awakened on his accoimt. Colonel James W. 
Gillespie, Colonel R. F. Looney and Ideutenant-Colonel 
Reuben Arnold, all of Tennessee Confederate regiments, 
and twenty-five other officers and citizens, sent petitions to 
Richmond for his pardon. All proved unavailing. Mr. 
Self had a charming, beautiful daughter, whose steadfast- 
ness to her crushed father in his misfortimes was sublime 
and heroic. She was notified on the morning of the day 
of the execution that he was to be hanged at 4 o'clock p. m. 
I will let Mr. Brownlow, who was at that time confined 
in the Enoxville jail, describe what followed : 

• • . ^'His daughter, a noble girl, modest and neatly 
attired, came in this morning to see him (her father). 
Heart-broken and bowed down under a fearful weight of 
sorrow, she entered his iron cage, and they embraced each 
other aflfectionately. My Grod, what a sight I What an 
affecting scene I May these eyes of mine, bathed in tears, 
never look upon the like again. . . . 

**But her short limit to remain with her father expired, 
and she came out weeping bitterly, and shedding burning 
tears. Requesting me to write a dispatch for her, and sign 
her name to it, I took out my pencil and a slip of paper, 
and wrote the following : 

** *Knoxvillb, Dec. 26, 1861. 
** *HoN. Jbffbbson Davis : 

^* 'My father, Harrison Self, is sentenced to hang at four 
o'clock this evening on a charge of bridge burning. As 

398 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

he remains my earthly all, and all my hopes of happiness 
center on him, I implore you to pardon him. 

** ^Elizabeth Sblp/ 

**With this dispatch the poor girl hurried oflf to the tele- 
graph office, some two or three hundred yards from the 
jail; and about two o'clock in the afternoon an answer 
came to General Carroll, telling him not to allow Self to 
be hung. Self was turned out of the cage into the jail 
with the rest of us, and looks as if he had gone through a 
long spell of sickness. But what a thrill of joy ran 
through the heart of that noble girl ! Self is to be con- 
fined, as I understand, during the war."^ 

Was there ever a more touching scene? 

It affords me sincere pleasure to record this act of clem- 
ency and goodness of heart on the part of President Davis, 
so much at variance with what is usually regarded as his 
character, for he was considered by the world an austere 
man. This, however, is not the first instance in which he 
appears to have been more generous in his sentiments 
towards the Union people of East Tennessee than those 
who surrounded him at Richmond, and more so than many 
even of our own leading citizens. No doubt Mr. Benjamin 
had been appealed to earnestly in behalf of this unfortu- 
nate man, but without effect. It is seen, however, that 
the moment the appeal of the daughter reached Mr. 
Davis, his heart was touched, and he at once granted the 
petition of the despairing girl. After knowing this beau- 
tiful act of mercy, no word of bitterness against Mr. Davis 
shall ever escape my lips. This was the third time in 
which he had manifested a disposition to be just and gen- 
erous towards the suffering Union men of East Tennessee. 
So far as we can see, he desired to treat them and rule 
them with impartial justice. 

Confined in the jail at Knoxville at the same time with 

1 « 

Pftreon Brownlow's Book/' page 326. 

Executions and Impriaonmenta. 399 

Mr. Brownlow and Harrison Self were Jacob Harmon and 
his son, Thomas Harmon. They were also accused, and I 
presume correctly, of haying taken part in burning the 
Lick Creek bridge. They were therefore tried by a court- 
martial, found guilty, and sentenced to be hanged. Al- 
though an earnest and determined e£Ebrt was made by 
their counsel, Mr. John Baxter, both here and in Rich- 
mond, to save them, all his efforts were in vain. On the 
17th day of December, 1861, they were executed on a gal- 
lows erected a short distance north of the railway track in 
North Knoxyille. This gallows remained standing, a con- 
spicuous object, until after the Federal army entered the 
city, when it was destroyed by the soldiers with a fury 
similar to that which characterized the destruction of the 
Old Bastile by the populace of Paris. It was stated at the 
time, and no doubt correctly, that the young man Harmon 
was first executed, while the father, an aged man, was 
compelled to sit and look on at the shocking sight. ^ 

Two other persons, Daniel Smith and Jacob Myers, were 
tried and found guilty of haying had some connection with 
the burning of the Lick Creek bridge. They were both 
sent to Tuscaloosa. Captain Fry, the leader in that un- 
fortunate affair, was arrested in trying to make his escape 
into Kentucky. He was tried for bridge burning, con- 
victed and sentenced to be hanged. No doubt he would 
have been executed, but for the remonstrance of (General 
S. P. Carter, of the Federal army in Kentucky. On the 
16th of April, 1862, (General Carter appears to have ad- 
dressed a letter, in reference to Captain Fry, to General E . 
Kirby Smith, then in command in East Tennessee. The 
correspondence in full can not be found. Enough, how- 
ever, appears to show that the Federal commander in 
Kentucky remonstrated against the execution of Fry, on 
the ground that in burning bridges he was acting under 
orders from the Federal military authorities. 

^ " PaiBon Brownlow's Book," page 819. 

400 East Tennessee and tJie Civil War. 

In June, 1862, when General Mitchell was advancing on 
Chattanooga, and General George W. Morgan was re* 
ported to be advancing on Knoxville with a Federal force 
from Cumberland Gap, a number of prisoners then con- 
fined in jail at Knozville were hurriedly sent to Atlanta. 
Among tiiem was Captain David Fry. At the same time, 
there were in the Atlanta prison, as there had previously 
been in the Knozville prison, a number of Federal soldiers 
who were tried and convicted of the ofiEense of being spies. 
These were a portion of the men who had seized and at* 
tempted to carry off a locomotive on the Western Atlantic 
Railroad, intending to run it back to the Federal army in 
Middle Tennessee, burning all the bridges as they went.^ 
Fry and these men were to be hanged at the same time. 
On the night before the day of their intended execution, 
they seized and overpowered the guard in the Atlanta 
prison, and, after a desperate struggle, succeeded in mak- 
ing their escape. Fry and a part of these men, after en* 
during almost incredible hardships, succeeded in escaping 
through North Carolina into Eastern Tennessee, and 
finally, after an absence of more than a year. Fry made 
his way back to the Federal army near Murfreesboro, 
where he again assumed command of his old company. 
The adventures and hair-breadth escapes of this daring 
man, if written out, would form a history of thrilling in- 
terest. After the close of the war. he was killed by a. 
railway train, in Greeneville, his native home. 

Although I am satisfied that not three hundred people in 
East Tennessee, outside of those actually engaged in the 

^ About fifteen of these " train stealers," as they were called, were 
brought to Knoxville for trial by a court-martiaL Eifi^t were successively 
tried on the charge of being spies and found guilty. These, with their 
leader, J. J. Andrews, were subsequently executed in Atlanta. In the 
midst of the trials, news of the approach of a Federal army, under C^eral 
George W. Morgan, broke up the court, and the prisoners were all hurried 
off to Atlanta. A portion of these were the men who, with Captain Fry, 
overpowered the guard and made their escape. The late Judge John Baz- 
ter and the author defended those who were tried in Knoxville. 

Executions and Imprisonments. 401 

work, knew of the purpose to destroy the bridges, yet the 
belief generally existed in the minds of the Confederate 
authorities that nearly all the Union men knew in advance 
of this contemplated movement. The fact that hundreds 
of men in Carter, Johnson and Sevier counties, immedi- 
ately flew to arms with such weapons as they could com- 
mand, and that hundreds more assembled who had no arms, 
furnished apparently strong corroborative evidence of their 
complicity in the burning of the bridges. And yet such 
was not the fact, except as to a limited number. If it had 
been generally known that such a thing was to happen, I 
ought to have known it. And yet I had not the slightest 
intimation or suspicion of such a thing. The mustering 
of these men was very unwise, and productive of the most 
disastrous consequences, not only to themselves and their 
families, but likewise to the whole Union population. Their 
rising was not prearranged. It was the sudden uprising 
of a few of the people who thought the Federal army was 
coming, many of them attracted merely by idle curiosity. 
Looking back to 1861, with a full knowledge of the facts 
as they are known to us now, tJie excitement among the 
Confederates at that time seems to have been the result of 
little more than a ludicrous scare. There were at that 
time from five to ten thousand Confederate troops in East 
Tennessee and on the border of Kentucky. Governor 
Harris, as we have seen, wrote to Mr. Davis, November 
12th : *'I shall send immediately about 10,000 men to that 
section" (East Tennessee), and he urged Mr. Davis *'to 
send from Western Virginia a number of Tennessee regi- 
ments." On the 13th Mr. Benjamin telegraphed to J. B. 
Branner that ** troops were moving to East Tennessee to 
crush the traitors." In all there were probably gathered 
here, within the next ten days, not less than twenty thou- 
sand, and possibly twenty-five thousand soldiers. The 
singular part of this strange farce was that the excitement 
and the scare continued nearly two months. And yet 

402 East Termessee amd the CivU War. 

during all this time there was not a Federal soldier within 
the borders of East Tennessee, except Captains Fry and 
Cross, who had come to aid in the burning of the bridges , 
and thej were hiding and trying to get back to Kentucky. 
And none were threatening to come. 

At the very time the Confederates were in the wildest 
state of excitement— on the very tip-toe of apprehension — 
the outline of the little army of Federals under General 
Thomas might have been seen receding beyond the hills 
of Wild Cat, in the direction of Camp Dick Bobinson, 
wholly unconscious of the great commotion it had created, 
while the Union men, after a few days, like partridges 
when the hawk is abroad, were hiding, or seeking safety 
in the hills and mountains, or secretly fleeing to Kentucky. 
The reported uprising was greatly exaggerated, and in 
some cases imaginary, and altogether contemptible, as 
against organized troops. There were not one hundred 
men in all East Tennessee, well armed, nor two thousand 
even half armed, nor ammunition for a half hour's fight. 

It might be easily suspected that the incident of the 
bridge burning was used as a pretext for arresting, disarm- 
ing and imprisoning Union men. This was certainly not 
the motive. It was a sincere, honest fright, laughable by 
reason of its extent, its intensity, and the length of its du- 
ration. In this view, it was comical and farcical. But to 
the Union people, it was full of terror, suffering and woe. 
Violent wrath and apprehension seized the Confederate 
army. Confederate citizens were thrown into a panic. 
The storm of anger naturally burst on the heads of Union 
men, and all were suspected. Arrests were made until the 
prisons overflowed. The poor, frightened Union men 
fled terror-stricken to such places of safety as they could 

But one great and important fact was developed by these 
stirring events. It was made manifest that the Southern 
Confederacy rested, in East Tennessee, on a live and an ever- 
burning volcano, which needed only the slightest vent to 

Executions and ImprUonmenU. 403 

cause it to burst forth at any moment in a terrific ex- 
plosion. The solid Union ranks of June had been thinned 
by no desertions. And now, sufferings had welded them 
into a solid mass, which would make them terrible in the 
day of battle. Strange that those in authority did not see, 
could not see, that it was better to let these determined, 
these lion-hearted people alone in their quiet pursuits and 
secluded homes than to force them into active hostility. 

If there were those, at the time the bridges were burned, 
who thought that their destruction was a good thing for the 
loyal people of East Tennessee, surely they must have been 
convinced of its folly during the long, sad, dismal months 
that followed. With the wild excitement and the blind 
panic which everywhere filled the minds of the Confeder-r 
ate people, there soon came to the Union people an 
overwhelming sense of insecurity. For the first time, 
they began to realize fully that they were among enemies, 
who counted the success of the new government above 
all things else — ^above kinship, above old friendship, above 
the most sacred ties hitherto uniting them. This sense 
of personal insecurity and of alienship extended to every 
Union fireside in East Tennessee. There was not a man 
so high, nor one so noble, but felt that he was liable to 
be accused, seized and thrust into prison at any moment. 

On the 20th of November, 1861, Rev. Colonel Wm. B. 
Wood, commanding the post at Knoxville, wrote to Mr. 
Benjamin as follows : 

^*The rebellion in East Tennessee has been put down in 
some of the counties. . . . Their camps in Sevier 
and Hamilton counties have been broken up, and a large 
number of them made prisoners; some are confined in 
jail at this place, and others sent to Nashville. • . . 

**We have now in custody some of their leaders — Judge 
(David T.) Patterson, the son-in-law of Andrew Johnson, 
Colonel (Samuel) Rckens, the senator in the legislature 
from Sevier and other counties, and several members of 
the legislature, besides others of influence and some dis- 

404 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

tinction in their counties. . . . They really deserve 
the gaUowSy and if consistent with the laws ought speedily 
to receive their deserts. ... I have to request at 
least that the prisoners I have taken be held, if not as 
traitors, as prisoners of war. ... To release them is 
ruinous." . . . 

Colonel Leadbetter, November 28th, says in a letter to 
(General S. Cooper : 

**Twenty-two persons have been sent to Nashville from 
Carter county, and we have now in confinement some five 
or six known to have been in arms, and who will be sent 
to Tuscaloosa. ' * 

On the 11th of December, 1861, General W. H. Carroll, 
in a letter from Knoxville, to Mr. Benjamin, said : 

*'In addition to those suspected of burning the bridges, 
I have now in confinement about 160 prisoners charged 
with taking up arms, giving aid and assistance to the 
«nemy, inciting rebellion, etc. ... I have already 
^ent there (Tuscaloosa) forty-eight to be held as prisoners 
of war." 

Thus the work of arresting Union men went on through 
November and December, 1861, and in the early months 
of 1862. Among the prominent men thus arrested was, 
as we have just seen, Samuel Pickens, an old and respect- 
able citizen of Sevier coimty, then a senator in the legisla- 
ture. His crime was being a Union man and the father 
of W. C. Pickens, the leader in the attempt to bum 
Strawberry Plains bridge. Without even the form of a 
trial, unless by the secret and ex parte action of Lead- 
better's or Carroll's court, he was sent to Tuscaloosa, 
where he died. There was no evidence against him, and 
he was guilty of no offense. He was a quiet, peaceable 
and an excellent citizen. 

Dr. R. H. Hodsden, also of Sevier county, and John M. 
Fleming of Knox, both members of the legislature, were 
also soon afterward arrested. They were released by the 
Confederate States judge, West H. Humphi^ys, on being 

Executions and ImprisonmenU. 405 

brought before him, who, though a noisy and ardent se- 
cessionist, was a kind hearted and just man. 

Edmond Hodges and Wm. E. Hodges, of Sevier county, 
were also arrested, and sent to Tuscaloosa without trial, 
where they were confined for many months. Both of 
these men were good citizens and had been guilty of no 
offense, except an earnest and active support of the Union 
cause. Edmond Hodges was a superb specimen of nature's 

A little later on, Mr. Montgomery Thomburgh, of Jeffer- 
son county, was arrested, and without trial sent to Madi- 
son, Georgia, for confinement. Alas I he never returned. 
He was a strong, powerful man physically, and in good 
health, but the privations of prison life proved too much 
for even his robust constitution. Mr. Thomburgh had 
served two or three terms as senator in the state legisla- 
ture, and had acted with ability one or two terms as 
prosecuting state's attorney in the judicial circuit in 
which he resided. He was the father of Jacob M. Thorn- 
burgh, who was afterwards a colonel in the Federal army, 
and represented the Knoxville district for three terms in 
congress after the close of the war. He was also the 
father of Thomas Tipton Thomburgh, a major in the 
United States army, who was killed in Colorado, in 1879, 
gallantly fighting at the head of his command in a des- 
perate battle with the Ute Indians. The offense of Mr. 
Thomburgh was that he had been a prominent Union 
speaker and leader. I happened to know that during the 
troubles that followed the burning of the bridges all his 
influence was exerted in trying to preserve the peace of the 
coimtry and in keeping the Union men quiet. 

At ihe same time that Mr. Thomburgh was arrested, 
Mr. James Monroe Meek and Samuel P. Johnson, of the 
same county and town, were arrested and hurried off to 
prison in Macon, Georgia. The former was a worthy 
citizen, had been a member of the legislature and was a 

406 East Tennessee cmd the Civil War. 

lawyer in fair practice. He still lives, commanding the 
respect and esteem of his fellow-citizens. 

The only tangible evidence, or rather charge, against 
both Mr. Meek and Mr. Thornburgh was that a large bodj 
of Union men from their town and vicinity had attempted 
to escape into Kentucky, and they were held responsible 
for this attempt. 

Levi Trewhitt, of Bradley county, near seventy years of 
age, was also arrested and sent to Tuscaloosa, without 
trial, where he died some months afterward. His offense 
was being a Union man. Mr. Trewhitt was an able law- 
yer, had been prominent at the bar for a great many 
years, and was a peaceable and an upright citizen. He 
was the father of Daniel C. Trewhitt, a colonel in the 
Federal army, and for many years after the war an able 
chancellor and circuit judge in the Chattanooga chancery 
division and circuit. 

Dr. William Hunt, the brother-in-law of William G. 
Brownlow, was also arrested at the same time with Mr. 
Trewhitt, and sent to Tuscaloosa. He had no trial, was 
guilty of no offense, and accused of none except that of 
being an outspoken Union man. Dr. Hunt was noted as 
a peaceable, amiable man, and was one of our purest and 
best citizens. He never returned to his home, but died 
from prison life. Many other citizens were sent to prisons 
in the South. I only name the more prominent ones. 

In reference to Mr. Trewhitt, I quote the following 
statement of Colonel James W. Gillespie, a Confederate 
colonel : 

**Knoxvillb, Tbnn., January 20, 1862. 

**0n the 19th day of November last, I arrested and 
brought to this place Levi Trewhitt, Esq., of Cleveland, 
Tennessee. This arrest was made under an order from 
Colonel W. B. Wood, commanding the Sixteenth Alabama 
regiment, who at that time was the commander of this 
post. The arrest was ordered because Mr. Trewhitt was 
suspected of a knowledge of the burning of the railroad 

Executions and ImpriaonTnents. 407 

bridges and the plans by which it was done. He was re- 
tained here for some weeks and then sent to Tuscaloosa by 
order of Gleneral W. H. Carroll, who succeeded Colonel 
Wood in command. There was no trial or investigation of 
the charges so far as I know or have understood. 

Jas. W. Gillespie, 
Col. Forty 4hird Reg. Tenn. (Confederate) Volunteera.^^ 

I insert also the petition of divers neighbors of Mr. 
Trewhitt for his release from prison, as follows : 

**. . . His Excellency Jefferson Davis, 

^^ President of the Confederate States of America : 
"Your petitioners, the undersigned citizens of Bradley 
county, humbly represent and show unto your excellency 
that Levi Trewhitt, who is now as they understand con- 
fined in Mobile as a prisoner of war, is one of the old, 
influential citizens of Bradley county, Tennessee ; that he 
is about sixty-five years of age, and has been for the past 
few years afflicted with paralysis, and as they now under- 
stand is sick and in the hospital at Mobile. They further 
state that said Trewhitt was a very useful man at home. 
We therefore pray that said Levi Trewhitt be released 
from said confinement upon his becoming a loyal citizen, 
and taking an oath to support the constitution of the 
Confederate States of America, and as in duty bound, will 
ever pray, etc., William Grant, T. L. Hoyl, Jno. B. Hoyl 
(and 31 others) . 

**We, the undersigned officers in the Confederate service, 
fully concur with the above petitioners. 

D. M. Key, Ideut. 'Colonel, 
(Jambs W.) Gillespie, 

Col. Reg, Tenn. Vols.^ 
(and 16 others)." 

While Mr. Trewhitt was in confinement, the affidavits of 
John Blackburn, E. Ramsey, Benjamin Hambright, G. R. 

408 East Tennessee and the CivU War. 

Hambright, Welcome Beard and A. A. Olingan, all Con- 
federate sympathizers, were forwarded to headquarters, 
showing that he had been not only guilty of no offense, 
but that he had been active in using his influence among 
the Union men in trying to preserve the peace. Not^ 
withstanding the mass of testimony in the possession of 
the authorities, at KnoxviUe, this feeble old man, who had 
been afflicted with paralysis for years, was kept in prison 
imtil he died in 1862. 

In view of the failure of the army in Kentucky to ad- 
vance into East Tennessee and cover and protect those 
who were engaged in bridge burning, as well as the loyal 
people generally, this attempt to destroy the bridges was 
one of the most unfortimate and doubtless one of the most 
unwise military schemes of the war. The destruction of 
the five bridges, as it turned out, did but little harm to 
the Confederacy, and no good whatever to the Union 
cause. On the contrary, it resulted in incalculable injury 
to the Union people of East Tennessee. In addition to the 
fact that several persons were hung for their participation 
in burning the bridges, this was the cause of the arrests of 
hundreds, not to say thousands, of Union men, and the 
long incarceration of many of them in prisons in Tusca- 
loosa, Mobile, Madison and Macon. It created in the 
minds of the Confederates wide-spread alarm and the most 
intense bitterness. The next few months were the most 
fearful and terrible to the Union men of any during the 
whole war. It was the ^^noche triste^^ in their history. 
Then followed those several repressive acts on the part of 
the military authorities which have made the sufferings of 
the people of East Tennessee known throughout the land. 
While it would be presumptuous in me to question the 
military plans or opinions of such a great general as 
Thomas, yet I may venture the opinion that Sherman was 
right, and that the proposed expedition into East Tennes- 
see, in November, 1861, with the forces then contemplated, 
was premature, and would have been a failure, except as 


ExecvMona and Imprisonments. 409 

a mere raid. The general plans of the army were not ripe 
for such an expedition. The force intended for this expe- 
dition was not sufficient. It was too early for such a move- 
ment. The other armies were not in co-operation with it. 
Knoxville, if it had been taken at that time by Gleneral 
Thomas, in all probability, could not have been held, and 
untold calamities to Union men would have followed. As 
it was, the proposed movement sent five men to the gal- 
lows, fifteen hundred or two thousand to long confine- 
ments in prisons, where many died, and drove from five 
to ten thousand men from their homes into exile. It filled 
the minds of all loyal people with fear and anxiety, and 
put them in constant and extreme peril for nearly two 

I have not insisted in the foregoing criticisms of the 
conduct of the Confederate authorities, and do not insist 
that they had not the rightful authority to punish men, not 
engaged as soldiers in actual war, for destroying their 
bridges. I waive the consideration of the limitations of 
that right entirely, and confine myself to a point which 
cannot be disputed, namely, the unseemly haste of their 
conduct. Concede this right in the most ample form, and 
I do concede it, and that furnishes no justification for the 
hasty hanging of Henzie and Fry, and but little less for 
that of old man Harmon. Nor is there any possible jus- 
tification for sending Pickens, Thornburgh, Hodges, Tre- 
whitt. Hunt, Meek and others to southern prisons, without 
any kind of trial. They had been guilty of no oflFense 
against the laws of the Southern Confederacy ; they were 
all peaceable citizens, and, according to the laws of all 
civilized nations, they were entitled to a trial before con- 
demnation and pimishment. The treatment of these men, 
as well as others not named, was unjustifiable and inde- 
fensible. At the same time, it brings out in bright relief 
the noble and the humane conduct of President Davis, Col- 
onel James W. Gillespie, Colonel Robert F. Looney, Col- 

410 E<i8t Tennessee and the Civil War. 

onel D. M. Key, Lieutenant-Colonel Reuben Arnold and 
other honorable Confederate officers. 

It is not overlooked that, when the Federal army occu- 
pied East Tennessee, many arrests of citizens sympathiz- 
ing with secession were made, and that many were cast 
into prison, and some sent North for confinement. Many 
of these arrests, perhaps most of them, were made because 
the parties arrested were accused of having persecuted 
Union men in some form or another during the ascendency 
of the Confederacy. In many cases these charges were 
true. In divers other cases men were arrested solely be- 
cause they had been active and prominent secessionists. 
Often the arrests were instigated by a spirit of retaliation 
and hate. Possibly the larger number was of this class. 
In a large majority of cases, the prisoners, after being held 
under guard or in jail awhile, were released on bond for 
good behavior, and on an oath of allegiance, as often hap- 
pened with Union men under the Confederate rule. In 
nearly all cases there was some kind of an examination, 
generally an ex parte one, by the provost-marshal, of the 
charges against the prisoners. 

There was undoubtedly a disposition on the part of 
General S. P. Carter, the provost-marshal-general, to be ju^ 
and humane, for such was his nature ; but it was difficult 
for the most humane man, under the circumstances, to 
hold the scales of justice level. Beyond question, there 
was in some cases, possibly in a number, unnecessary se^ 
verity. In this category falls the confinement in a north- 
em prison of Rev. R. M. Stevens, W. W. Wallace and 
Chancellor T. N. Van Dyke. These men were sent, so far 
as I understood their history, simply because they were 
outspoken, prominent secessionists, who were unwilling to 
give up the cause of the Confederacy after the Federals 
obtained control of East Tennessee. As I have condemned 
the imprisonment of peaceable citizens because of political 
opinions in the case of Union men, so likewise I condemn 
it in these cases. But it is to be observed that the latter 

Executions and Iifn^^risoninenta. 411 

class of cases did not amount to a third of the former in 
point of number, nor the severity of treatment, and that 
they occurred after the unjust and unnecessary persecu- 
tions of Union men by the Confederate authorities. 

It is hoped that if, unfortunately, there should ever be 
another civil war in this country, there may be greater 
toleration of opinion. In a revolution, especially one in- 
volving a disruption of the government, all men cannot 
be expected to see alike. The minority may be quite as 
honest as the majority. Why should this minority be mo- 
lested or coerced in their opinions? When, however, a 
new government is established, this minority is bound to 
yield obedience to the new authority. If they disregard 
its laws, they are subject to punishment. It follows, there- 
fore, that the Union men of East Tennessee had no right 
to defy the laws of the Confederacy as long as those laws 
were over them, and that private citizens who engaged in 
burning bridges took upon themselves the hazard of their 

412 East Tennessee and the Civil Wa/r. 



BittemesB in 1861 against Union men— Mr. Davis* desire to be just— Feel- 
ing of Confederate officers— Names given — ^Extracts from letters — 
Unionists arrested for political opinions— Protests of distinguished 
Confederate citiBen»— Arrests instigated by local leaders— Seizing arms 
of Union men — ^Enforcing conscript law — ^Flight of (Jnion men — ^Uni- 
versal alarm— Capture of 400 refugees— )^otioe of pilots— Noble women 
— Condition of Union men — ^FuU of danger and anxiety. 

The feeling of a majority of the Confederate citizens of 
East Tennessee, at this time against the Union people, was 
that of intense bitterness. Nearly eyery prominent citizen 
among them felt and acted in this spirit. There could be 
no line of policy adopted, however severe, that did not 
meet their approval. Their policy of pacification meant 
banishment, or imprisonment. The crime of being, or 
having been, a Union man was one that could not be con- 
doned. The bitter and earnest outcry against any tolera- 
tion of these ^Hraitors and tories," as they were esteemed 
and called, helped to increase the already swollen stream 
of bitterness, until it burst all bounds, and for a season 
nearly submerged all sense of justice and mercy. At all 
times, and perhaps that was natural under the circum- 
stances, our worst and most implacable enemies were the 
old political leaders, and a few of the officers from our 
own section. 

It was unfortunate that the three representatives in the 
Confederate congress, from East Tennessee, were intense 
in their condemnation of the course of the Union people. 
They were naturally looked to by the authorities at Rich- 
mond for information and advice as to the condition of 
things in their districts. Two of them, Joseph B. Heiskell 
and William G. Swan, were men of decided ability. The 

The Flight. 413 

first named, though still a young man, had become eminent 
as a lawyer, which reputation he fully sustained for more 
than twenty years after the close of the war. He was 
honorable in all things, but from some cause he had become 
extreme in his views and feelings. Mr. Swan, though not 
quite so able a lawyer as Mr. Heiskell, was quite his equal, 
in shrewdness, sagacity and natural ability. He too, was 
exceedingly ultra, except as to his own personal friends. 
These he was willing to shield and protect. Personal 
friendship counted for much with him eyen amid the bitter 
strife of civil war. The third of these representatives, 
William H. Tibbs, was perhaps more extreme than either 
of the others, but of far less capacity. 

Whatever the truth may be, it was universally charged 
and believed at that time, that the policy pursued in East 
Tennessee was largely the result of the advice of these 
three men. It is certain that they did not arrest the 
wrong, nor so far as was known to the public, protest 
against it. It was also charged at the time, that they 
earnestly insisted on the enforcement of the Confederate 
conscription law in East Tennessee. This may have been 
the case. How far they were supported in these meas- 
ures by the two Confederate senators from this state does 
not clearly appear. 

There are a number of facts that tend to show that Mr. 
Davis was animated by a sincere desire to deal kindly, and 
even magnanimously, toward the Union people of East 
Tennessee. I believe that such was the fact. He was an 
honorable gentleman, and though somewhat bitter, he was 
possessed of a clear sense of justice. 

Fortimately for the Union people there were many per- 
sons, both privates and officers, from other sections of the 
state, and from other states, who never ceased to be South- 
em gentlemen, and who turned the shield of their protec- 
tion in front of these people, as far as they dared, and in 
this way helped to mitigate their hard condition. I should 
be unjust to both the living and the dead if I were to fail 

414 East Tennessee and the Cvvil War, 

to mention in this connection the names of Colonel H» 
Casey Yoimg, of Memphis, since the war a prominent 
member of congress for several terms ; James W. Gillespie, 
Colonel of the Forty-third regiment Tennessee Volunteers ; 
Colonel D. M. Key, since distinguished by holding seats in 
the cabinet, in the senate, and on the federal bench, and 
Colonel Robert B. Vance, of North Carolina. The Hon. 
Samuel A. Smith, a prominent Democratic member of 
congress, from the Chattanooga district for a number of 
terms before the war, and Mr. John C. Burch, since the 
war a distinguished Nashville editor, also comptroller of 
the state, both seem to have been, at this time, animated 
by the most generous sentiments, as will appear from ex^ 
tracts from their letters to persons in Richmond. I also 
mention the names of Colonel A. M. Perry, ex-governor 
of Florida; Lieutenant Joseph H. Speed, of Alabama; 
Colonel George H. Monsarat, of Memphis ; Colonel Edward 
(jk)lliday, of Lebanon, Tennessee, and Major T. S. Webb 
and Colonel Louis A. J. Dupre, of Memphis. I also men- 
tion the noble Colonel D. H. Cummings, of our own sec- 
tdon. Colonel Young, while serving as the Adjutant-Gen- 
eral of (General W. H. Carroll, when the latter was in 
command in East Tennessee, showed by many acts that he 
was both a just and a humane man. The people of East 
Tennessee owe to him a debt of gratitude for his justice 
that they can never repay. 

In this connection, I would do injustice to a noble gen- 
tleman and a gallant Confederate officer, should I fail to 
mention, in fitting terms of praise, Colonel Robert F. 
Looney, of Memphis. 

I quote extracts from the letters of Mr. S. A. Smith and 
Frank W. Lea, to show that at this time men were being 
sent to Southern prisons solely because of their political 

Mr. Smith wrote as follows : 

The Plight. 415 

**Clbvbland, Tknn., January &^ 1862. 
^'OoLOKBL Charlbs M. McGhbb. 

^^Dear Sir: — James S. Bradford, of this county, was ar* 
rested some time since and sent to Tuscaloosa. Mr. Brad- 
ford was originally a Union man, but I know of no other 
charge that has been brought against him. Since the sep- 
aration of the state from the Federal Government, he has 
recommended submission to the will of the majority of the 
people of the state. . . . Now that everything is calm 
and quiet, it is believed by the original secessionists, of 
whom I am one, that Bradford ought to be released. You 
know that I would be the last one who would screen any- 
one who had any connection with toryism in East Ten- 
nessee. I am satisfied, however, that Bradford had noth- 
ing to do with it, and was arrested simply because he had 
been a Union man. . . . You have only inquired of 
me as to Bradford. I might, perhaps, give you the names 
of others who have been subjected to equally as great out- 
rages by the petty personal prejudices of some of our re- 
cent converts who are now in brief authority. 
"Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

**Sam'l a. Smith." 

Mr. Lea also wrote as follows : 

**Clbvbland, Tbnn., January 8, 1862. 
"CoLOKBL Charlbs M. McGhbb. 

^^Dear Sir: — I have received your request to write you the 
facts about the arrest of James S. Bradford by Captain W. 
L. Brown's command, and he was a few days after sent to 
Tuscaloosa. I feel confident that his arrest and transporta- 
tion from here must have been done under a misconception 
of his position as regards the rebellious feeling that has 
disturbed East Tennessee, and, had an investigation been 
allowed, he would have been discharged without spot or 
blemish. It is true he was originally a Union man, . . . 
but, before the period at which our state linked her future 
with the Southern Confederacy, he became a loyal South- 

416 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

em man, and from that day exerted all Ms influence and 
power for peace and submission. I know that it told to 
such a degree that their numbers were greatly lessened 
amongst us. Franck W. Lea/* 

Nothing that I can say will so clearly reveal the true 
condition of the Union people of East Tennessee, at this 
time, as the letters of Hon. Robertson Topp, Colonel H. 
C. Young, and Mr. John C. Burch, herein inserted. It 
must be kept in mind that all these gentlemen were Con- 
federates in high standing with the authorities, one of them 
being on the staff of General Carroll, and that these letters 
were the enforced protests of these honorable gentlemen 
against the wrongs which were at that time inflicted on 
these suffering people, largely by the instigation of our own 
public men of East Tennessee. 

The Hon. Robertson Topp, a distinguished citizen of 
Memphis, under date of October 26, 1861, in a letter to 
Robert Josselyn, intended for President Davis (this was 
before the bridges were burned) , says : 

'^More than one hundred persons have been arrested in 
East Tennessee, without warrants in some cases, marched 
great distances, and carried into court on no other charge 
than that they were Union men. In one case, an old man 
named Duggan, a Methodist preacher, was arrested, car- 
ried fifty miles on foot (he being a large, fleshy man) , re- 
fused the privilege of riding his own horse, and all they 
had against him was that, in February last, he had prayed 
for the Union. . . . 

**Just as the people were quieting down, getting recon- 
ciled, raising volimteers, etc., they commenced these ar- 
rests, which have gone far to poison the minds of the 
people against the government, and, if tolerated and per- 
sisted in, the people of that end of the state, at a critical 
moment, will rise up enemies, instead of friends. You 
ask me who makes these arrests. As far as I can learn, 

The Flight. 417 

they are instigated by a few maliciousy troublesome men 
in and around Knoxville." 


' 'Referred to the secretary of war, that such inquiry 
may be made and action taken as will prevent, as far as 
we may, such proceedings as are herein described. 

The Hon. H. 0. Young says : 

^'Hbadquartbrs Carroll's Brigadb, 
Knoxvillb, Tbnn., December 19, 1861. 
**HoN. D. M. CuRRiN, Richmond, Va. 

^^Dear Sir: — . . . In September, Major-Gteneral Polk 
sent General W. H. Carroll here for the purpose of en- 
deavoring to bring the people oyer to the support of the 
Confederate government, and to enlist one or more regi- 
ments for the army. General Carroll succeeded beyond 
his expectations, raising and organizing in a very short 
time a full regiment. ... By these (bad men) and 
these alone were the bridges burned, and other depreda- 
tions committed, while the mass of the people were en- 
tirely ignorant of their designs and utterly opposed to any 
such wickedness and folly. The numbers engaged in these 
outrages have, I know, been greatly overestimated, as facts 
have developed in the investigations that have been made 
by the court-martial now in session at this place, which 
satisfy me beyond doubt that there was not at the time 
the bridges were burned 600 men in all East Tennessee who 
knew anything of it or who contemplated any organized 
opposition to the government. . . . Scouting parties 
were sent out in every direction, who arrested hundreds 
suspected of disloyalty and incarcerated them in prison 
until almost every jail in the eastern end of the state was 
filled with poor, ignorant and for the most part harmless 
men who had been guilty of no crime save that of lending 

418 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

a too credulous ear to the corrupt demagogues whose coun* 
sels haye led them astray. Among those thus captured 
were a number of bridge burners. These latter were tried 
and promptly executed. . . . About 400 of the poor 
victims of designing leaders have been sent to Tuscaloosa 
as prisoners of war, leaving in many instances their 
families in a helpless and destitute condition. The great- 
est distress prevails throughout the entire country in con- 
sequence of the various arrests that have been made, to- 
gether with the facts that the horses and the other pro])- 
erty of the parties that have been arrested have been 
seized by the soldiers and in many cases appropriated to 
personal uses or wantonly destroyed. 

'^Old political animosities and private grudges have been 
revived, and bad men among our friends are availing 
themselves of the opportunity afforded them by bringing 
Southern men to hunt down with the ferocity of blood- 
hounds all those against whom they entertain any feeling 
of dislike. . . . The wretched condition of these un- 
fortunate people appeals to the sympathy and commisera- 
tion of every humane man. When in Richmond a short 
time since, I was present at an interview with the Presi- 
dent, and feel assured that he has no disposition to exer- 
cise any unnecessary severity toward the deluded dupes. 
Those best acquainted with affairs here are fully impressed 
with the belief that if the proper course were pursued, all 
East Tennessee could be united in support of the Con- 
federate government. 

** Respectfully your friend, 

**H. C. Young." 

Let it be remembered that the foregoing was written by 
an ofl&cer on the staff of Greneral Carroll. 
The following is the letter of Mr. John C. Burch : 

The Flighi. 419 

* 'Richmond, Va., January 26, 1862. 
''His Excbllbnct the Prbsidbnt of thb Confbdbratb 
Statbs — 

"Sir; — In passing through East Tennessee, I have been 
informed by a gentleman of integrity, and whose loyalty 
to the Confederacy has never been questioned, that some 
forty-five or fifty of the citizens of that section of country 
(Bradley county) have been arrested by persons having 
or assuming to have military authority under this govern- 
ment, that after arrest the most of them have been told 
they must volunteer or be sent to the government prison 
at Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and that those who refused to 
volunteer under such compulsion have been sent to and im- 
prisoned at Tuscaloosa where they now remain. 

"The names of the persons thus dealt with, as far as my 
information extends, are as follows : Dr. John G. Brown, 
Charles B. Champion, James S. Bradford, Allen Marlow, 
Sidney Wise, John F. Kinchelow, Samuel Hunt, — Potts, 
W. R. Davis, — Gamble, Thomas L. Cate, John Bean, Sr.^ 
and John Boon. These men were arrested by a captain 
of Tennessee Cavalry, and as I learn without any specifi- 
cation of charges and without the examination of a single 
witness, they were hurried off to imprisonment. Levi 
Trewhitt, William Hunt, Stephen Beard, John McPher- 
son, Gteorge Munsey, — Thompson were taken to Knox- 
ville, but had no investigation before any tribunal. The 
first two were sent from thence to Tuscaloosa. The re- 
maining four were released either on parole or uncondi- 
tionally, but after returning to their homes, they were 
arrested by the captain of cavalry before alluded to and 
also sent to Tuscaloosa. As I am informed, none of the 
persons whose names I have given were taken in arms or 
suspicioned of having been in arms against the govern- 

"It is insisted and I presume correctly that the terror en< 

420 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

gendered by these arrests was an efficient cause in chang- 
ing public sentiment in East Tennessee. 



(Indorsement, presumably by Mr. Davis.) 
**Sbcbbtaby op Wab, fob attention : 

* 'Those who acted for the government can inform you 
whether political arrests were made and prisoners sent to 
Tuscaloosa as herein affirmed." 

Thus it is incontestably established by the testimony of 
five honorable Confederate citizens that hundreds of Union 
men were arrested and imprisoned solely because of their 
Union sentiments. 

The condition of the Union men of East Tennessee was 
at that time rendered still more helpless and hopeless by 
orders issued to agents to search for and seize their arms. 
All houses were to be searched and all arms seized. This 
was in violation of the bill of rights in the constitution of 
the state in three particulars, namely, ^Hhat the people shall 
be secure in their persons, houses, papers and possessions 
from unreasonable searches and seizures; that no man's 
property shall be taken or applied to public use . . . 
without just compensation being made therefor," and 
''that the free white men of this state have the right to 
keep and bear arms for their common defense." 

The last declaration is but the embodiment of a senti- 
ment springing up in the heart of every freeman. The 
highest indignity that can be put on a spirited man is to 
strip him of his arms. With a moimtain people their 
arms are the true mark and insignia of liberty. Without 
them half of their manhood is gone. Rulers, when they 
would enslave a people, first take away their arms. But 
for the fact of the utter hopelessness of resistance, not a 
gun would have been surrendered without bloodshed. 
Most of these brave people were disarmed one by one. 
Some, however, to avoid humiliation such as had never 

TJie Flight. 421 

befallen them, nor their ancestors before them, sought the 
recesses of the hills or mountains, and there, with their 
trusty guns, awaited the coming of a better day. 

One more cause of discontent awaited these braye-spirited 
Union people. This quickly followed the disarming. 
These men, who had thus far resisted every seductive ap- 
peal and every intimidation, and had grown more defiant 
with each new wrong put upon them, must now yield their 
manhood and fight for a government they disliked, and 
against the one they loved with more than a mother^s love. 
Squads of soldiers were sent out over the country to gather 
up the men liable to military service under the Confeder- 
ate conscript law. These were to be put into a camp for 
instruction, at Knoxville, and from time to time sent off 
to fill up depleted Southern companies and regiments. 

And now followed a general exodus of Union men. 
Great as were the dangers and hardships of seeking se- 
curity in Kentucky, by a journey through the wild moun- 
tains, these were infinitely preferable in their estimation 
to service against the government of their choice. Im- 
mediately the minds of almost the entire male population, 
of age for military duty, were turned toward Kentucky. As 
fast as they could procure guides and companions, they 
silently slipped away on their perilous journey. Many had 
already gone and were enrolled in regiments which helped 
to swell the army of deliverance, waiting over the border 
for the time for their return. 

In the whole history of the war nothing can be found so 
blind, so infatuated, so absolutely devoid of wisdom and 
statesmanship, as the conduct of those who dictated the 
policy of the Confederate authorities toward the Union 
people of East Tennessee. It was the policy of coercion. 
The mistake was in thinking that a high-spirited, proud 
people could be forced, contrary to all their traditions and 
glorious history, as they believed, into the support of a gov- 
ernment they hated. As I have shown in another chapter, 
after the June election in 1861, when the people of the 

422 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

state decided to cast their fortunes with their brethren of 
the South, especially after the action of the Greene ville con- 
vention, a majority of the Union people were willing to 
abide the result, so far as to remain quietly at home un- 
til the national government should be able to come to 
their relief and restore its authority. Most of the men 
who finally fled to Kentucky and entered ihe army did not 
at first contemplate such a thing. They were willing to 
pursue their usual avocations, on their farms, raising stock 
and grain for sale, and for the support of their families. 
By conciliation and toleration, such as were exhibited 
toward the Union people in Southwest Virginia and West- 
em North Carolina, thousands who crossed the mountains 
as exiles and entered the Federal army might have been 
kept at home as producers and peaceable citizens. But 
madness ruled the hour. Polly held its high carnival. 
Personal and political animosity were in the saddle. The 
feeling among their enemies at home was that these men 
should be coerced to fight for the South, or driven out of 
the country. Under this policy nearly three-fourths of the 
male population became exposed to arrest or imprisonment, 
or to be forced to fight for a cause they disliked. Despera- 
tion at last drove them into the hills, or into exile. They 
were told by their own people that they were **tories," and 
that neither they nor their families should remain on the 
soil of Tennessee ; and yet, when goaded to desperation 
they made an attempt to escape from this terrible condi- 
tion, they were arrested in their flight and sent to Southern 
prisons. And all this was done under the advice of home 
leaders. It was not the work of Mr. Davis, nor the Con- 
federate authorities. 

But this was civil war. If the conditions had been re- 
versed, the Union men would doubtless have been just as 
bitter as were the Secessionists. In fact, it is not surpris- 
ing that Southern men were bitter against the Union peo- 
ple of East Tennessee. They believed that the latter 
should have joined them in their great struggle for inde- 

The Flight. 428 

pendence. From their point of view, the Union men were 
false to their brethren of the South in the hour of their 
supreme need. On the other hand, the Union men believed 
the Secessionists, from selfish and ambitious motives, were 
attempting to destroy a great and beneficent government. 
Neither side had any charity or toleration for the other ; so 
hate and bitter passion ran riot on both sides. Perhaps in 
the end it might have been better for the Union men of 
East Tennessee to have submitted to the will of the major- 
ity of the state after the June election, as a majority of 
them would have done if they had been treated with clem- 
ency and toleration. But, unfortunately, they were not 
thus treated. Thousands, if not tens of thousands, of 
these men, who would have remained at home as peaceable 
citizens if a policy of moderation and conciliation had 
been adopted, were driven into exile and the army solely 
from a sense of insecurity. In violent revolutions, result- 
ing in civil war, it is always an overwhelming calamity for 
a people to be divided in opinion and action. Perhaps in 
such a case it would be better for the minority to yield. 

It must be kept in mind that the Union people were per- 
fectly quiet and peaceable until after the bridges were 
burned. Let it be kept in mind, also, that the system of 
arrests and imprisonments had been commenced before 
that event. We have just seen that the Hon. Robertson 
Topp, in his letter, intended for Mr. Davis, of October 
26th — twelve days before the bridge burning — said : **More 
than one hundred persons have been arrested in East Ten- 
nessee on no other charge than that they were 'Union 
men.' '* Here is the evidence of a distinguished Confed- 
erate gentleman, written at the time to a friend, after hav- 
ing spent some days in Knoxville. And after the bridges 
were burned, and it was found that no Federal army was 
coming, the Union men again became perfectly quiet, and 
remained so for twenty-two months following. During all 
these long, gloomy months, arrests and imprisonments 

424 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

numbering thousands were made, so that at last most of 
the male population were driven into exile. 

By the spring and early summer of 1862, when it be- 
came evident that the conscript act would be enforced, 
nearly every male inhabitant, liable to military duty, who 
was able to endure the hardships of the journey and could 
leave his family, had determined to seek safety in flight. 
The hardships of a journey in winter, and the hope that 
the storm would pass by, that a milder policy might pre- 
vail, had kept thousands at home until that time. This 
pleasant hope was now dispelled. Sometimes whole com- 
mimities were seized with the determination to leave. In 
April, 1862, between four and five hundred young men 
and boys from New Market and its vicinity, Jefferson 
county, started as refugees to Kentucky. Some of them 
were armed, and they seem to have expected that their 
nimiber and arms would secure them safety. In this they 
were mistaken. In crossing Powell's Valley, when in 
sight of the Cimiberland Mountains, where there was 
safety, nearly forty miles from home, after a feeble effort 
at resistance, they were intercepted and captured, except a 
few who were in the rear, by a regiment of East Tennessee 
Confederate cavalry. 

As soon as these unfortunate men were captured, though 
already exhausted by their journey, they were placed in 
line for an immediate march to Knoxville, distant more 
than forty miles. They were hurried forward as rapidly 
as they could be forced to go. It was a hot, sultry after- 
noon when they arrived at Knoxville. They were driven 
to the already crowded jail or small jail-yard, into which 
they were huddled, making their condition almost intoler- 
able. Soon afterwards, they were marched under a strong 
guard to the railroad and sent off to Tuscaloosa, or some 
other prison, to be held during the war as political pris- 

And who were these young men who were thus sent off 
to Southern prisons? They were the tender and gentle 

The Flight. 425 

Bons of the intelligent and independent farmers around 
New Market and of the beautiful and rich valley of the 
same name, celebrated all over the state and beyond it as 
one of the fairest and wealthiest regions in all the land. 
Many of these young men were the descendants of the 
pioneer Covenanters who had helped to win King's Moun- 
tain, who had planted civilization in the valley of the 
Holston, and who had defended and held the state against 
the terrible Indian tribes of the great wilderness west and 
south of them. A better population nowhere existed. 

And what was the crime of these innocent, ingenuous 
young men? They still loved the government of their 
fathers, and were trying to escape from one they did not 
love. This was the **very head and front of their offend- 

The imprisonment of these young men was done under 
the order of Gteneral E. Kirby Smith, who had recently 
taken command of this department. General Smith was 
of Connecticut parentage. He had the reputation, both 
before and since the war, of being a fair and a just, indeed 
a good man, and that was true of him in his normal con- 
dition. But he had caught the spirit then prevailing in 
East Tennessee and was no longer himself. 

Soon after the accession of General Smith, the celebrated 
orders directing Mrs. Andrew Johnson, Mrs. W. G. Brown- 
low, Mrs. Horace Maynard and Mrs. William B. Carter, 
with their families, to leave the state and go north, were 
issued at his command, as stated on their face. These 
families were ordered to leave in thirty-six hours. Not a 
word of comment is necessary as to the time allowed. The 
time, however, was afterwards extended. Nor will I dwell 
a single moment on the policy and justice of thus sending 
from their homes harmless, innocent ladies, who were 
especially noted for their mildness and peaceable disposi- 
tion, all of whom were verging on old age, and two of 
them well advanced in life. 

It is no justification of such a policy to say that Greneral 

426 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

S. P. Carter afterwards sent out of Enoxyille women and 
children, nor that Andrew Johnson did the same at Nash- 
ville and General Sherman at Atlanta. It is enough to 
say that the practice, except in cases of actual danger to 
the general cause, is one to be discountenanced rather than 

The necessities of the situation in East Tennessee natu* 
rally called forth a class of men known as guides or pilots, 
who engaged in the hazardous business of conducting 
Union refugees through the woods and mountains to 
places of safety, generally the Federal army in Kentucky. 
These men became exceedingly skillful in this business. 
They did not expect to fight their way through, but by 
traveling at night and pursuing unfrequented and pathless 
ways— cautiously, silently and stealthily creeping past 
their enemies, who were always patrolling the roads and 
moimtain passes — thus to make their escape from danger. 
There were a number of guides who became celebrated in 
this business. Perhaps the most noted of these was 
Captain Daniel Ellis, of Carter county, who has pub- 
lished a book of his adventures, full of thrilling interest. 
He was a man of great coolness, daring and shrewdness, 
always able to extricate himself from perils that at the 
time seemed to be absolutely hopeless. In him the future 
writers of historical romances will find a second Horse- 
shoe Robinson. Captain Ellis still lives in his native 
county, enjoying the esteem and confidence of his fellow- 
citizens. I believe that he claims to have piloted to the 
Federal army, in Kentucky and Tennessee, ten thousand 

Spencer Deaton, of Knox county, was another celebrated 
pilot. He conducted many parties through the mountains. 
At last, probably in 1864, he was captured and carried to 
Eichmond, where he was tried, condemned and hanged as 
a spy in Castle Thunder. 

Isaac Bolinger, of Campbell county, Seth Lea and Frank 
Hodge, of Knox, Washington Vann and William B. Rey- 

The Flight. 427 

nolds, of Anderson, and James Lane, of Greene, were 
all successful pilots and conducted many parties to Ken- 
tucky. Doubtless there were others, whose names I have 
not learned. 

Captain W. B. Reynolds, of Anderson county, became 
quite noted as a guide, a spy, a recruiting officer and a 
fighter. He acted in all these capacities as occasion de- 
manded. No danger kept him from undertaking the most 
perilous trips. He would slip into Knoxville, bringing 
messages and news, showing himself to such persons as 
he wished to see, then, ascertaining all that was important 
about the Confederate army, would slip out and return to 
Kentucky, leading back a small number of recruits or 
refugees. His daring often amounted to brazen eflFrontery. 
Captain Reynolds was a veteran of the Mexican War. 

There were thousands of noble women in East Tennes- 
see who were always ready to help these refugees by every 
means in their power. Perhaps none of these was so 
widely and so favorably known as Mrs. Jeannette Laurimer 
Mabry, of Knox county, the wife of Colonel Gteorge W. 
Mabry, a wealthy farmer. Her husband and all his 
family early espoused the cause of the Confederacy, but 
she remained unflinchingly true to the Union. She was 
at all times outspoken in its favor. Being a woman of 
prominence, by reason of her social position and wealth, 
and possessing a large degree of intelligence, her open 
stand for the Union became widely known. Her influ- 
ence among her neighbors and acquaintances in the 
country in holding them true and stedfast to the govern- 
ment was remarkable. Besides she had the reputation, 
and deservedly too, of being the most universally charita- 
ble woman in the country. She never turned the needy 
away empty-handed, nor the hungry unfed. No wonder 
such a woman had influence. When, therefore, the dark 
days of 1861 and 1862 came, and the males of almost 
whole commimities were fleeing for safety, these men 
naturally turned to this noble woman for advice and 

428 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

assistance. The poor, starving, needy refugee, always 
found in her a generous friend ; the timid and the fearful 
loyalist took new hope from her unshaken faith and 
courage. She always knew the latest news from the 
front. If a guide came in from the Federal lines his 
mission was not considered complete without communis 
eating in some way with her. And thus she lived through 
the war, aiding in her humble way the cause of her 
country. And around the camp-fires in Kentucky, and 
in other distant fields where duty called them, no name 
left behind was uttered more frequently by the exiles, 
nor with a tenderer or more sincere invocation of a bless- 
ing on it, than that of Jeannette Laurimer Mabry. 

It is impossible to give even an approximate estimate of 
the number of men who were secretly conducted to the 
Federal lines. Possibly it amounted to fifteen or twenty 
thousand, Estimating that thirty-five thousand men from 
East Tennessee entered the Federal army during the war, 
including those who became connected with the organiza- 
tions of other states, and were therefore not counted as 
Tennessee troops, the estimate I have made seems reason- 
able. Besides a considerable number of persons fied from 
East Tennessee who did not enter the army. 

The condition of the Union men of East Tennessee dur- 
ing the latter part of the year 1861 and during the year 
1862, and until September of the year 1863, was gloomy 
beyond description. No pen can picture the mental 
anxiety they endured. Many, it must be remembered, 
could not get away. Some were physically unable to en- 
dure the hardships of such a perilous journey on foot 
through the mountains. Some found their families in such 
a helpless condition that they could not leave. Some 
hoped until the last that the terrors and hardships which 
encompassed them would be mitigated, and that their con- 
dition would become more tolerable. It was hard, very 
hard to leave home and family as an exile, not knowing 
when, nor whether at all, they should ever return. It waa 

The Flight. 429 

a sad, hard lot which thus forced men to such a step. 
Dark indeed must things have seemed. But whether men 
stayed or went, there was peril before them. 

Many persons who could not go, did not dare to remain 
at home. So, they hid themselves in the hills or the 
mountains, coming in when no danger seemed to be near. 

An overwhelming sense of danger at all times filled the 
minds of the Union men. The feet of the enemy, often 
strangers, pressed the soil, and roamed in triumph over 
the valleys and hills once their own. These hills and val- 
leys, lately so lovely to the Union men, had now become 
almost hateful to them. Even the great moimtains which 
they loved so fondly, seemed almost to mock them in 
their despair. The chill of evening had settled on their 

Overwhelming and terrible was their condition. While 
the excitement of the canvasses of 1861 lasted, it gave 
courage and buoyancy to their minds. But when it 
was no longer safe to speak except in a whisper, when a 
new, a hostile government was manifesting its spirit, as 
well as its power by arrests and by imprisonments in 
distant states, then indeed they awoke to a sad realization of 
the change . As time wore on, and the policy of the authori- 
ties in East Tennessee became more and more rigorous, often 
despair, darker than midnight, overcast their minds. 
Dangers were on every hand— danger of arrest, of conscrip- 
tion, of imprisonment, of transportation — ^these were a few of 
the things that rendered the condition of loyal men so 
desperate from the day the state seceded until September, 
1863. Add to this the fact that they had no reliable news 
from the North. Then consider the fact, that scarcely a 
ray of hope cheered them until Grant, the coming general 
of the war, won Donelson in the winter of 1862, and that 
after the spring of that year there was no real progress 
made until the triumphs of Vicksburg and of Gettysburg 
suddenly burst upon an impatient and almost despairing 
people in 1863. 

430 The Causes of Secession. 

Hard as was the lot of the refugees, the condition of those 
who remaiiied at home, in mental anriety and fear, was 
even harder, especially if they were men of prominence. 
During the year 1861 and a part of 1862, the Union seemed 
to them to be dissolving and melting away. There were 
feebleness and indecision in the North ; unparalleled energy 
and determination in the South. The cry of war rang from 
the Potomac to the Rio Grande. In only one small section 
in all tills vast region were the people still loyal to the old 
flag, and their voice was now silenced amid the din of war. 

During the long, long months of waiting, hoping and 
despairing, following June 8, 1861, how the hearts of the 
Union men grew sick and faint I The darkness of despond- 
ency overcast them. At all times the odium of being 
traitors to the South rested on them. If the South tri- 
umphed, for all future time they were to be regarded — ^were 
then in fact regarded — as the Tories of the Revolution are 
regarded by this generation. Social ostracism and outlawry 
were to be their fate and that of their children. Like Gain, 
their punishment was almost greater than ihey could bear. 

The intense anxiety of these people can never be esti- 
mated. Cut off from communication with the North, filled 
with doubt and perplexity, with the noise of the storm of 
war constantly in their ears, with no light breaking from 
any quarter, surrounded by dangers and threatened with 
personal violence, what situation could have been more 
gloomy? It looked as if all was lost. They could not 
forecast the brightness of the future. And yet, amid all 
this gloom, they remained true and firm. The darker the 
hour, the more intensely glowed their love for the Union. 

The very dangers which surrounded them, increased 
their dislike of the new government, and heightened their 
love of the old. Never did a people love the Union so 
lavishly as did these heart-sick people. Little wonder they 
wept and laughed and shouted like children, when in 
1863, they once more beheld the old flag.* 

' The author deems it only just to say that personally he never had any 

The Flight. 431 

cause of complaint against the Confederate authorities. He was always 
treated kindly by them, and enjoyed as many privileges as were consistent 
with a state of civil war. He received courtesies from numerous Confeder- 
ate officers. Scores of them visited his house. All knew he had been a 
Union leader, and yet their treatment was kind and cordiaL 

432 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 



Mr. Lincoln determines to relieve East Tennessee — Appoints General 
Robert Anderson to lead an army for this porpose — He retires— Then 
Creneral Sherman — He declines— General Baell sacceeds Sherman — 
Views of Sherman — Sherman and Baell both at first in favor of an ad- 
vance into East Tennessee — Both change their minds — Mr. Lincoln 
and General McClellan urge Baell to advance — Correspondence — Baell 
opposed to an independent expedition — General Thomas — Creneral 
ZolUcoffer — Battle of Fishing Creek — ^Way open to East Tennessee — 
General Grant asks permission to take Fort Henry — Captare of that 
place — Invests Fort Donelson — Sarrender of that place — ^Battle of 
Shiloh— Confederate lines forced soath ward— Way again open to East 
Tennessee — ^Baell's objections to an advance considered — ^Importance 
to the Confederacy of holding East Tennessee and its line of railroads — 
Warshoald not have lasted so long— No reflection on the military 
capacity of General George H. Thomas. 

When Mr. Lincoln heard, in 1861, the romantic and thrill- 
ing story of the loyalty of the people of East Tennessee, of 
their sublime struggle for the Union, and of their continued 
faithfulness amid general desertion in the South, his sym- 
pathy was deeply touched in behalf of these unyielding 
and unconquerable people. He at once determined to 
rescue them from their perils by sending an army to their 
support. The first suggestion of the kind, so far as we 
can see, sprang up in the kind heart and emanated from 
the brain of this extraordinary man. In the summer of 
1861, as we have seen, he appointed General Eobert An- 
derson to command an army to be concentrated in Ken- 
tucky. Anderson was selected with special reference to 
this specific object. He did not attempt to conceal the 
fact that he was appointed to lead an army designed for 
the relief of the people of East Tennessee. We have also 
seen that General Anderson, sick and broken down in 
health, was soon overwhelmed with the hopelessness of 

Waiting Over the Border. 433 

his situation. Therefore, in October, he asked to be re- 
lieved of his command, which was accordingly done. 
General W. T. Sherman was his successor, who, likewise 
in a few weeks, despairing of accomplishing anything in 
Kentucky, asked to be relieved. About the middle of 
November, General Don Carlos Buell was appointed to 
succeed him. While Sherman was in command in Ken- 
tucky in the Department of the Cumberland, Greneral 
Ormsby M. Mitchel was stationed at Cincinnati in com- 
mand of the Department of the Ohio. He was engaged in 
organizing Ohio troops and sending them forward to Camp 
Dick Robinson, in Kentucky, for the use of General Sher- 
man. (General Greorge H. Thomas was in command at 
Dick Robinson under Sherman. On the 20th of October, 
the secretary of war, Mr. Cameron, and L. Thomas, adju- 
tant-general of the army, were in Cincinnati, and while 
there issued to General Mitchel an order to repair at once 
to Camp Dick Robinson, and there **prepare troops for a 
forward movement, the object being to take possession of 
Cumberland Ford and Ciunberland Gap and ultimately to 
seize the railroad,^" in East Tennessee, at Knoxville. 

General Mitchel entered upon the discharge of the 
duties of his new command with all his usual energy. He 
immediately commenced throwing forward from Cincin- 
nati all the troops he could prepare for the field, to con- 
centrate at once at Dick Robinson, ten or twelve regi- 
ments, for the purpose of this expedition. As the field of 
his operations was within the territory embraced by the 
Department of General Sherman, and as General GiBorge 
H. Thomas had been placed in command of the troops 
at Camp Dick Robinson, soon there came to be serious 
friction between General Mitchel and these several com- 
manders. Mitchel, though assigned by the secretary of 
war to a special duty, and apparently an independent com- 
mand, was to report to Sherman. The latter was finally 
opposed, as we shall see more fully, to the movement 

434 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

toward East Tennessee. He believed it unwise. On the 
other hand, Mitchel regarded it as a military movement 
of the first importance. He also believed it entirely 
feasible with ten or twelve regiments and with sufficient 
artiljery. If any one could have succeeded in reaching 
the railroad, in East Tennessee, and destroying the 
bridges at that time, it was Gteneral Mitchel. He subse- 
quently developed a tireless energy and a brilliant dash, 
as well as military sagacity, similar to those displayed by 
Sheridan and Stonewall Jackson. If he had lived, it can 
scarcely be doubted that he would have become one of the 
great generals of the war. He was a graduate of West 
Point, and in 1862, won the rank of brevet major-general 
by his operations in Alabama. 

Sherman had constantly insisted on having more troops, 
if the government expected to retain Kentucky. He be- 
lieved that it would be impossible to hold Louisville and 
Frankfort without a larger army, against a combined at- 
tack of Johnston, Buckner and ZoUicoffer, much less 
make offensive movements. He became exceedingly an- 
noyed at the perplexities and difficulties which encom- 
passed the cause of the Union in that state. 

About the middle of October, Mr. Simon Cameron, 
secretary of war, and Adjutant-General Lorenzo Thomas, 
with a full staflf of newspaper correspondents, stopped at 
Louisville, on their return from St. Louis, to confer with 
Gteneral Sherman. The latter pointed out in their con- 
ference very fully the danger which threatened the na- 
tional cause in that state, and after explaining that he 
had a line three hundred miles long to defend, extending 
from the mouth of the Big Sandy to Paducah, he insisted 
that he needed 60,000 men for defense, and that for 
offensive operations — ^that is, to conquer and hold the 
country to the Gulf of Mexico and the sea — ^he needed 
200,000 men. Mr. Cameron, at this statement, threw 
up his hands and exclaimed: ''Great God, where are 
they to come from?" General Sherman asserted "that 

Waiting Over the Border. 435 

there were plenty of men in the North ready and willing 
to come if he — ^the secretary of war — ^wonld only accept 
their services ; • • . for it was a notorious fact that regi- 
ments had been formed in all the North-western States 
whose services had been refused by the war department, on 
the ground that they would not be needed." ^ 

Mr. James Guthrie, who was present, was called on for 
his opinion as to the condition of affairs in Kentucky, and 
he corroborated all Oeneral Sherman had said, and added, 
what General Sherman says he had often heard him say, 
"that no man who owned a slave or a mule in Kentucky 
could be trusted." On the return of Mr. Cameron to 
Washington, by some means a newspaper man got hold of 
the fact and published it that General Sherman had de- 
manded two hundred thousand men. Immediately the 
report was current, both in the East and the West, that 
he was "insane." Wherever he went this charge followed 
him. It was not until after the battle of Shiloh, the next 
April, that he was relieved from the injury of this cruel 
and widely circulated slander. 

It might possibly afford a curious mathematical problem 
to determine how many less men than 200,000 it finally 
took, during the next three years, to clear out the country 
to the Gulf of Mexico, as contemplated by Gteneral Sher- 
man when he named that number. Then again, military 
men ought to be able to say whether or not, with a 
sufficient force, the Confederacy could have been cut in 
two in 1861-62, as it was by this same general in 1864, 
The truth is. General Sherman was greatly in advance in his 
ideas of the men around him, excepting Gteneral Mitchel, 
as well as in advance of the authorities in Washington. 

Sherman, like General Buell, when first placed in com- 

* " Sherman's Memoirs," Vol. I, pp. 200, 203. 

The qaota of Indiana, under the 75,000 call, was less than 6,000 men. 
The governor offered 10,000. The governor of Ohio telegraphed : " We 
will famish the largest number you will receive." The governor of Mich- 
igan offered to furnish 50,000 men. — *' Life of Lincoln," by Ida M. Tarbell ; 
"McClure's Magazine," February, 1899. 

436 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

mand of the Department of Ohio, appeared to think favor- 
ably of the project of an expedition into East Tennessee. 
No doubt he was encouraged in that direction by the 
instructions he had from General McClellan. (reneral 
Buell at first seemed to heartily approve of the project 
also. Mr. W. B. Carter in his letter of September 15, 
1861, before quoted, says, that on his return to London^ 
Kentucky, from Tennessee, where he had been directing 
the bridge burning, he found a message from Buell for 
him to repair at once to Louisyille to meet that general. 
He says : 

^'One of Buell 's objects in sending for me was to ask me 
this question : * You have just been over the road ; can I, 
at this season of the year, march an army into East Ten- 
nessee?' I replied: *Much as I desire you to do so, 
I feel obliged to say you can not do it. ' " This was about 
the 1st of December. Mr. Carter says Buell had "his 
heart set on relieving East Tennessee." 

All through the late fall of 1861 and the winter of 1862, 
General McClellan was urging Buell to advance into East 
Tennessee. On the 25th of November, he said: **I am 
still convinced that political and strategical considerations 
render a prompt movement in force on Eastern Tennessee 
imperative. The object to be gained is to cut communi- 
cation between the Mississippi Valley and Eastern Vir- 
ginia ; to protect our Union friends in Tennessee, and to 
re-establish the government of the Union in the eastern 
portion of that state. I think we owe it to our Union 
friends in Eastern Tennessee to protect them at all haz- 
ards. First secure that, then, if you possess the means, 
carry Nashville." 

The matter of the relief of the Union men of East Ten- 
nessee was still weighing heavily on Mr. Lincoln. In his 
message to congress in December, he recommended "that 
the loyal regions of East Tennessee and Western North 
Carolina should be connected with Kentucky and other 
faithful parts of the Union by railroad. I therefore r^ 
commend," said he, ^^as a military measure that congress 

Waiting Over the Border. 487 

provide for the construction of such a road as speedily as 
possible." Nothing ever resulted from this suggestion. 

I have given General Buell the credit of being, at first, 
like General Sherman, sincerely in sympathy with the 
proposed expedition into East Tennessee. But, in a short 
time, if such were the case, his mind underwent a decided 
change. General McClellan continued to send him re- 
enforcements, and to urge the imperative necessity of reliev- 
ing East Tennessee. In a dispatch of November, 1861, he 
said : ^^What is the reason of concentration of troops at 
Louisville? I urge movement at once on Eastern Tennes- 
see, unless it is impossible." 

Again, November 29th, he said : **Keep up the hearts of 
the Tennesseans. Make them feel that, far from any in- 
tention of deserting them, all will be done to sustain 
them. • . • I believe in attacks by concentrated masses, 
but it seems to me, with the little local knowledge I pos* 
sess, that you might attempt two movements^—one on 
Eastern Tennessee, say with 15,000 men, and a strong 
attack on Nashville, as you propose, with, say 60,000 


Again, December 8, 1861, General McClellan wrote to 
Buell, saying : " . . . Please send there, with the least 
possible delay, troops enough to protect these men. I still 
feel sure that the best strategical move in this case will be 
that dictated by the simplest feeling of himianity. We 
must preserve these noble fellows from harm ; everything 
urges us to do that — faith, interest and loyalty. For the 
sake of these Eastern Tennesseans who have taken part 
with us, I would gladly sacrifice mere military advantages ; 
they deserve our protection, and, at all hazards, they must 
have it." ... 

These are noble words, and show that General McClellan 
had a heart of genuine sympathy, whatever his faults as 
a commander may have been. 

Again, December 6th, General McClellan wrote to Gen- 
eral Buell : ^* . . . Let me again urge the necessity 
of sending something into East Tennessee as promptly as 

438 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

possible ; our friends there have thrown their all into the 
scale, and we must not desert them." 

In the meantime, the East Tennesseans who were in the 
North, and in Kentucky, were importunate in demanding 
that something should be done for their suffering fellow- 
countrymen at home. General Samuel P. Carter, on the 
21st of November, wrote to the Hon, Horace Maynard : 
^ ^ . • • Our men are most anxious to return to East- 
em Tennessee, not so much to see their families as to drive 
the rebels from the coimtry. • . . Two or three bat- 
teries, and 10,000 men, provided even with powder and 
lead for the people, could save Eastern Tennessee at this 
time. Will help never come?" . . . 

On the 25th of November, General Carter wrote again 
to the same gentleman : 

**...! know not what will be the next move, but 
hope most sincerely it may be toward Eastern Tennessee. 
If something is not done, and that speedily, our people 
will be cut up and ruined. ... K we had a battery, 
I believe we could go into Tennessee, and then we could 
carry arms, or even powder and lead to furnish to our 
people, I believe we could stay there. Will help ever 
come? • . • 

''U it be possible, have it so arranged that the Eastern 
Tennesseans shall not again, except in case of urgent and 
pressing necessity, be ordered back to Central Kentucky. 
Many would sooner perish in battle than turn their backs 
toward the Tennessee lines again." . . . 

On the 7th of December, 1861, the following dispatch 
was sent from Washington to General Buell : 

*'Gbnbral D. C. Bubll: 

*'We have just had interviews with the President and 
General McClellan, and find they concur fully with us in 
respect to the East Tennessee expedition. Our people are 
oppressed and pursued as beasts of the forest. The gov- 

Waiting Over the Border. 439 

emment must come to their relief. We are looking to you 
with anxious solicitude to move in that direction. 

"Andrew Johnson, 


To which General Buell sent the following reply, on 
the 8th : 

*'I have received your dispatch. I assure you I recog- 
nize no more imperative duty and crave no higher honor 
than that of rescuing our loyal friends in Tennessee, whose 
sufferings and heroism I think I can appreciate. I have 
seen Colonel Carter, and hope he is satisfied of this." 

On the same day (October 8th), Mr. Maynard wrote 
the following caustic letter to General George H. Thomas : 

'^ . . . You are still further from East Tennessee 
than when I left you nearly six weeks ago. There is 
shameful wrong somewhere ; I have not yet satisfied my- 
self where. That movement so far has been disgraceful 
to the country and to all concerned. I feel a sense of per- 
sonal degradation from my connection with it greater than 
from any part of my public actions. My heart bleeds for 
these Tennessee troops. I learn they have not yet been 
paid, and are left without either cavalry or artillery at 

''With Nelson, and the measles, and blue grass, and 
nakedness, and hunger and poverty, and home-sickness, 
the poor fellows have had a bitter experience since they 
left their homes to serve a government which as yet has 
hardly given them a word of kindly recognition. The 
soldiers of all the other states have a home government to 
look after them. These have not, and but for Carter (Gen- 
eral Samuel P.) , who has been like a father to them, they 
would have suffered still more severely. That they at 
times get discouraged and out of heart, I do not wonder. 
My assurances to them have failed so often that I should 
be ashamed to look them in the face. . . . 

"HoRACK Maynard.' 

440 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

Mr. Majnard seems to have had a poor opinion of Gen- 
eral Nelson and Kentucky blue grass, as he ranked them 
with measles and other horrible things. 

On the 20th of December, the war department telegraphed 
to Gteneral Buell : "Do you need more regiments than are 
now imderyour orders; if so, how many?'* The next 
day Buell answered, saying : *'I am not willing to say that 
I need more regiments. I can use more with decided ad- 
vantage, if they can be sent." Two days later, he stated 
that *'he had a force of 70,000 men; about 57,000 for 

He then for the first time disclosed his plan ; that is, it 
was "one of defense on the East" (in Kentucky toward 
East Tennessee) "and of invasion on the South," that is 
toward Nashville. 

But General McClellan and Mr. Lincoln still pressed 
the matter of relieving East Tennessee upon his considera- 
tion. On December 29th, the former telegraphed him : 

"Johnson, Maynard, etc, are again becoming frantic, 
and have President Lincoln's sympathy excited. Political 
considerations would make it advisable to get the arms and 
troops into Eastern Tennessee at a very early day ; you 
are, however, the best judge. Can you tell me about 
when and in what force you will be in Eastern Tennes- 
see? • • • Better get the Eastern Tennessee arms and 
clothing into position for distribution as soon as possi- 
ble. . . ." 

On the same day. General Buell answered as follows : "I 
intend a column of 12,000, with three batteries for East 
Tennessee, but as I have telegraphed you, it is impossible 
to fix a time for it to be there, so much depends on the 
circumstances which may arise in the meantime. . . . 
In any event I must tell you, what I have been unwill- 
ing to do all along, you will require more troops in Ken- 
tucky. . . ." 

It was now becoming painfully evident to those who had 
the inside view of General Buell's movements, that he was 

Waiting Over the Border. 441 

luiwilling to do what he had been so earnestly and so often 
urged to do, both by the President and the commander-in- 
chief. The President doubtless saw, or suspected this 
fact, when, on the 4th of January, 1862, he sent this 
searching dispatch to him : 

''Have arms gone forward for East Tennessee? Please 
tell me the progress and condition of the movement in that 
direction. Answer.'* 

The time had at last come when Gleneral Buell must 
deal with this question with explicitness. The President 
would be put off no longer ; he must know the intentions 
of his subordinate. Accordingly he wrote as follows to the 
President, January 5, 1862 : 

**To THE Prbsidbnt : 

' 'Arms can only go forward for East Tennessee under 
the protection of an army. My organization of the troops 
has had in view two columns with reference to that move- 
ment: a division to move from Lebanon, and a brigade 
to operate offensively or defensively according to circum- 
stances on the Cumberland Gap route. . . . 

^' While my preparations have had this movement con- 
stantly in view, I will confess to your excellency that I 
have been boimd to it more by my sympathy for the people 
of East Tennessee, and the anxiety with which you and the 
general-in-chief have desired it, than by my opinion of its 
wisdom as an unconditional measure. As earnestly as I 
wish to accomplish it, my judgment has from the first 
been decidedly against it, if it should render at all doubtful 
the success of a movement against the great power of the 
rebellion in the West, which is mainly arrayed on the line 
from Goliunbus to Bowling Green, and can speedily be con- 
centrated at any point of that line which is attacked singly. 

D. C. BUBLL." 

To this dispatch the President, with a sorrowful heart, 
sent the following reply, January 6th : 

442 East Tennessee arid the Cvuil War. 

^^Brigadibr-Gbnebal Bubll: 

**Your dispatch of yesterday has been received and it 
disappoints and distresses me. . . . My distress is that 
our friends in East Tennessee are being hanged and driven 
to despair, and even now I fear are thinking of taking rebel 
arms for the sake of personal protection. In this we lose 
the most valuable state we have in the South. My dis- 
patch to which yours is an answer was sent with the 
knowledge of Senator Johnson and Representative May- 
nardy of East Tennessee, and they will be upon me to 
know the answer which I can not safely show them. They 
would despair; possibly resign to go and save their 
families somehow, or die with them. 

'^I do not intend this to be an order in any sense, but 
merely as intimated before to show you the grounds of my 
anxiety. Yours, very truly, 

**A. Lincoln.'' 

On the same day, General McClellan sent the following 
dispatch to Gteneral Buell, marked * 'confidential:" 

"My Dbar Gbnbral: . . . There are few things I 
have more at heart than the prompt movement of a strong 
column into Eastern Tennessee . The political consequences 
of the delay of this movement will be much more severe 
than you seem to anticipate. If relief is not soon afforded 
these people we shall lose them entirely, and with them the 
power of inflicting the most severe blow upon the secession 
cause . 

*'I was extremely sorry to learn from your telegram to 
the President that you had from the beginning attached 
little or no importance to a movement in East Tennessee. 
I had not so understood your views, and it develops a rad- 
ical difference between your views and my own, which I 
deeply regret. . . • Interesting as Nashville may be 
to the Louisville interests, it strikes me that its possession 
is of very secondary importance in comparison with the 

Waiting Over ths Border. 443 

immense results that would arise from the adherence to our 
cause of the masses in East Tennessee, West North Caro- 
lina, South Carolina, North Gleorgia and Alabama — ^results 
that I feel assured would ere long flow from the movement 
I allude to. Gbo. B. McClbllan, 

*^ Major-General J Comma/ading.^^ 

This brought out from General Buell an explanatory dis- 
patch to General McClellan, dated January 13, 1862, as 
follows • 

**My Dear Fribnd : I did not intend to be understood 
in my dispatch to the President as attaching little impor- 
tance to the movement on East Tennessee ; on the con- 
trary, it is evidently of the highest importance, if thor- 
oughly carried out. But I believe that if the other object 
were attained, the same result would be accomplished quite 
as promptly and effectually. I have taken no step thus 
far that has not had that in view also. . . . The Ten- 
nessee arms are being unpacked and put in order and for- 
warded to Lebanon. Truly yours, D. C. Bubll." 

In this same letter he admitted that his command had 
risen to 90,000 men, and promised to carry out General 
McClellan 's instructions. 

On February Ist, Cteneral Buell again addressed General 
McClellan, in a long letter, on the subject of their previous 
correspondence, giving his reasons for thinking an expedi- 
tion into East Tennessee not only unwise, but impracti- 
cable. It was as follows : 

^^My Dear General: ... It is 200 miles or 
thereabouts from our depots (at the terminus of the rail- 
road) to KnoxviUe, or the nearest point on the Tennessee 
Railroad. At the best, supplies are meager along the 
whole route, and if they suffice for a trip or two, must by 
that time be entirely exhausted for any distance that we 
can reach on both sides of the road. 

From Somerset to Jacksborough we will scarcely find any 

444 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

at all. East Tennessee is almost entirely stripped of wheat 
by the enemy. In the productive region there is still a 
small surplus of com and wheat. We must supply two- 
thirds of the rations from our depots here, and we must of 
course depend on them also for our ordnance and other 
stores. It will take 1,000 wagons constantly going to sup- 
ply 10,000 men. , . . If the numbor of troops, and 
consequently the amount of hauling is increased, the diffi- 
culty is increased in a greater proportion. The limited 
amoimt of forage on the route will be speedily exhausted, 
as besides provisions for our men, we must have forage for 
our animals — ^a thing that is not to be lightly thought of. 

**In my previous letter I set down three divisions (say 
80,000 effective men) as the force that would be required 
for East Tennessee — ^two to penetrate the country and one 
to keep open communications. I believe that is the least 
force that will suffice, and it ought to be able to establish 
itself promptly before it can be anticipated by a force of 
the enemy sufficient to make the result doubtful. With 
railroads converging from the east, west and south, it 
ought not to be difficult for them to get a pretty formidable 
force in that country in ten days. . . . 

**For the reasons I have stated, I have been forced re- 
luctantly to the conviction that an advance into East Ten- 
nessee is impracticable at this time on any such scale 
which will be sufficient. I have ordered General Carter's 
brigade to move on the Gap, but I fear very much that 
even that will be compelled to fall back for supplies, such 
is the condition of the roads over which they have to be 
hauled, . . . Truly yours, D. C. Bubll." 

I have given the correspondence of the authorities at 
Washington with (General Buell, in reference to the occupa- 
tion of East Tennessee, as well as his letters and explana- 
tions in reference thereto, almost in full. This I have done 
not only because of the great importance of this matter, 
but also as an act of justice to General Buell, who has been 

Waiting Over the Border. 446 

held responsible for the long delay in giving relief to the 
loyal people of East Tennessee. That he persistently dis- 
regarded the oft and constantly-repeated suggestions of his 
superiors in this respect, is only too manifest from the fore- 
going correspondence. 

The point I am making is not affected in the slightest 
by the consideration that General Buell was probably 
right, as I think he was, in the opinion he held that an 
expedition into East Tennessee, at that time, was both un- 
wise and impracticable. It must be admitted that there 
was great force in the reasons he gaye for his conduct. 

During all this time, General George H. Thomas had 
been posted on the south-eastern border of Kentucky, 
watching the movements of (General ZoUicoffer, who, hav 
ing received re-enforcements, established himself on the 
north bank of the Cumberland River. From this point 
Zollicoffer could defend Cumberland Gap, and at the same 
time encourage the disloyal element in Kentucky. Late 
in December, Thomas was sent with orders to dislodge 

Thomas was posted at Somerset, about ten miles from 
Fishing Creek or Mill Springs ; Crittenden and Zollicoffer 
occupied a fortified camp on the Cumberland. They had 
built cabins for the soldiers and had gone into winter 
quarters. Thomas was anxious for a fight, but he did not 
wish to attack a fortified position. He therefore resorted 
to strategy, as we have reason to believe, though he does 
not say so, to draw the enemy out of his strong position. 
On the 17th of January, he sent two regiments of soldiers 
in the direction of the enemy with orders to cross Fishing 
Creek, that is, to get on the same side occupied by Zolli- 
coffer. Two other regiments were within supporting dis- 
tance. In the meantime, he put the remainder of his 
force in motion, but as quietly as possible, and on the 
night of the 17th, he got them in position for the expected 
fight on the other side of Fishing Creek. 

The prospect of capturing and destroying a considerable 

446 Edst Tennessee and the Civil War. 

force of Thomas' army, which had, as was doubtless sup- 
posed, incautiously yentured so near, could not be resisted 
by an enterprising general like ZoUicoffer, who was as 
ready to fight as Thomas. Accordingly, on the night of 
the 18th of January, the army of ZoUicoflfer moved out of 
its intrenchments, and started in the direction of the two 
regiments which had come so near. The night was cold 
and rainy, the roads muddy and almost impassable. Upon 
no other theory, except the one given above, can we ac- 
count for the action of prudent generals in leaving their 
fortified position, on such a night, and marching nine 
miles over horrible roads, where they were to encounter an 
enemy with nearly as large a force as they had. The re- 
sult of all this was that Thomas' men were rested on the 
morning of the battle, while ZoUicoflfer's arrived on the 
field only a little while before the commencement of the 
action in a worn out and exhausted condition. 

The morning was wet and chilly, the atmosphere dark 
and murky. About seven o'clock, or soon after, the fight 
was commenced with spirit and determination on both 
sides. It raged without ceasing, or any intermission in 
courage and eflfort, until some time after eleven o'clock, 
when an event happened which soon put an end to the 
fighting, as such things often did with inexperienced 
troops in the early stages of the war. This was the death 
of General ZoUicoffer. This officer, mistaking a Union 
regiment for one of his own, rode forward and told its 
commander. Colonel Speed S. Fry, that he was firing on 
friends. Fry, not recognizing ZoUicoflfer as an enemy, 
turned away to order his men to cease firing. At this 
moment, one of ZoUicoflfer's aides-de-camp rode up, and, 
seeing the true state of facts, commenced firing on Fry, 
wounding his horse. Fry, wheeling in turn, drew his 
navy revolver and returned the fire, shooting ZolUcoflfer 
through the heart.* 

' The above account of the death of General ZoUicoffer I have taken al- 
most literally from Vol. 5, p. 116, of Nicholay <& Hay's "Life of Ion* 

Waiting Over the Border. 447 

The fall of the brave Confederate leader soon put an end 
to the fight. As soon as his death was known, the Con- 
federate forces gave way. They retreated in disorder to 
their fortified camp at Mill Springs. Thomas made im- 
mediate pursuit, and invested their camp that night, in- 
tending to assault the intrenchments the next morning. 
But when morning came, it was foimd that the enemy had 
crossed the Cumberland River during the night, and had 
fled in the wildest disorder and precipitation, abandoning 
their woimded, their supplies, twelve pieces of artillery and 
many small arms. 

The forces engaged in this battle were as follows, namely : 
on the Confederate side, officers, 333 ; privates, 6,111 ; 6n 
the Union side, 4,829 men. It is possible that the full 
number given above as the force of the Confederates was 
not on the battlefield. But, be that as it may, it is plain 
that there was no great disparity in the forces of the re- 
spective sides. It is a singular fact that ZoUicofFer's en- 
tire command, except one Mississippi and one Alabama 
regiment, was composed of Tennessee troops, most of them 
being from Middle Tennessee, from the wealthy country 
around Nashville; while fully one-half of Thomas* men 
were Kentuckians and East Tennesseans — ^the First Ten- 
nessee (Colonel Byrd) , and the Second Tennessee (Colonel 
J. P. T. Carter) , being in the engagement.^ 

An eye-witness of this fight, as well as a participant, 

coin.** They cite as authorities Henry M. Cist, Army of the Camberland, pp. 
17, 18, also " History of the Army of the Cumberland," VoL I, p. 67, by 
Thomas B. Van Home. 

General Crittenden, in his official report, gives a somewhat different ac- 
oonnt of his death. He says that (General Zollicoffer rode up to the Nine- 
teenth Tennessee, commanded by Colonel D. H. Cummings, and ordered 
him to cease firing, under the impression that he was firing on one of his 
own regiments. He then rode forward toward the Federal troops, as if to 
give orders, when he was killed just as he discovered his mistake. 

' Judging by General George B. Crittenden's report, the battle must have 
lasted an hour after the death of Zollicoffer. He says that Thomas had 
12,000 men in the engagement, while he had but 4,000. A report of alt 
the commands engaged under Thomas shows the number I have given in 
the text. 

448 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

says that both armies fought with steadiness and courage 
up to the time of the death of Zollicoffer, that no decided 
advantage had been gained by either side up to that time, 
and that no one could tell how the fortunes of the day 
were going. In all his experience during the war, and he 
served four years, he says he never saw harder fighting 
than that between the Second Minnesota (Colonel Van 
Cleve) , and the Fifteenth Mississippi (Colonel Walthall) , 
in a struggle to hold an old fence-row which had grown up 
with underbrush, and which afforded some kind of shelter. 
These regiments charged each other three times successively 
in the effort to hold this vantage ground. Finally, the 
Minnesota regiment gained and held it.^ 

The victory of Thomas was complete; the disaster of 
the Confederates overwhelming. The importance of this 
victory has never received the recognition it was rightly 
entitled to. Soon after it was won, it was eclipsed, 
and therefore obscured, by other and very much greater 
victories, and, therefore, soon almost forgotten. And yet 
it was the first real decisive Union victory of the war. By 
it an army of from six to ten thousand Confederates was 
destroyed for the time being, and lost as an element in 
battles and in the movement of forces for sometime to 
come. This defeat does not in the slightest degree reflect 
on the courage of the Confederate soldiers, nor imply that 
they were less brave than the Union soldiers. It was just 
such a calamity as all raw armies were liable to have in 
the early stages of the war. If General Thomas had met 
the fate of Zollicoffer in that battle, the disaster which be- 
fell the Confederates might have fallen on the Union army. 
Very likely the Confederate soldiers trusted more in the 
well-known courage and coolness of Zollicoffer than they 

^ Major D. A. Carpenter, who was at that time adjutant of the Second 
Tennessee (Union), and afterwards major of that regiment, is my authority 
for the above. I am also indebted to Major Carpenter for other details ol 
this fight. He was one of the bravest ofiOiceni in either army. 

Waiting Over the Border. 449 

did in their own courspge, as inexperienced soldiers are apt 
to do. 

There was the wildest excitement over this defeat. As 
it was fought just over the border of Tennessee, and within 
one hundred miles of Knoxville, it created the greatest 
alarm in that place. Every one expected the Federal 
army would enter in a few days. In Nashville the news 
was received with overwhelming consternation and grief. 
ZoUicoffer, the pride, and, to some extent, the hope of 
Nashville, was dead. Young lieutenant Balie Peyton, the 
son of Hon. Balie Peyton, was also dead. In many other 
families and homes, in that place and in the surrounding 
country, there were weeping and lamentations over the 
loss of noble sons. Never did Nashville — never did any 
city anywhere— send forth to battle braver young men 
than those who followed ZoUicoffer with exultant confi- 
dence, and with manly spirit, to the fatal field of Fishing 

The way to East Tennessee was now open to (General 
Thomas. He could have marched his army, at that time, 
into Knoxville almost without opposition. It had been 
stripped bare of soldiers in strengthening the army of ZoUi- 
coffer. Now, as that was scattered, new forces had to be 
sent there. 

Events of a stiU more startling character than the battle 
of Fishing Creek were, at this time, being quietly evolved 
and developed, which were soon to burst on the world with 
bnlliant suddenness. (General Grant, since his seizure and 
occupation of Paducah, in his quiet, ceaseless manner, had 
been preparing the means of aggressive operations against 
the enemy. FinaUy, he was ready, and telegraphed to 
General HaUeck, his superior, for permission to strike a 
blow, saying : *'With permission, I shaU take Fort Henry, 
on the Tennessee." He received no permission. Rear- 
Admiral Foote repeated the request, with no better success. 
Again Grant, and again, for the third time, with renewed 

450 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

earnestness, urged his petition on his superior in St. Louis. 
At length, the permission was given. There was no delay 
in the movements of this silent, earnest man. Receiving 
Halleck's instructions on February 1st, the next day the 
expedition, with fifteen thousand men, was under way, on 
board of transports, and on the 4th, Grant and Foote, with 
seven gun-boats, also moved up the river. On the 6th, the 
gun-boats attacked the fort, while Grant's forces landed 
with the view of an investment and an assault by land. 
Before this could be completely done, the fort surrendered. 
Grant telegraphed to Halleck : * 'Fort Henry is ours. . . . 
I shall take and destroy Fort Donelson on the 8th." How 
positive this remarkable man was. Whatever he promised 
to do, he did. 

The sudden fall of Henry threw the Confederate generals, 
A. S. Johnston, Buckner and Hardee, into the wildest ex- 
citement. At once 12,000 re-enforcements for Donelson 
were sent forward under Buckner, Floyd and Pillow. The 
army at Bowling Green soon commenced a hasty retreat 
on Nashville. Thus had the plans and the energy of 
Grant not only opened up the Tennessee, but they had 
also virtually cleared Kentucky of all hostile armies, while 
Buell still remained quiet and inactive, with an army of 
90,000 men under his command. In the meantime the tele- 
graph wires were burdened with messages passing between 
McClellan, at Washington, and Buell in Louisville, and 
Halleck at St. Louis. None of them seemed to know what 
to do, and therefore nothing was done. Halleck wanted 
Buell to unite his forces with his own, then imder Grant 
operating on the Tennessee and the Cumberland, and thus 
with their joint forces, to invest and capture Donelson. 
Buell, after much deliberation and indecision, rather pre- 
ferred following the retreating army of Johnston now on 
its way to Nashville. So, he declined going to Donelson. 
General McClellan also thought this was the best plan. 
The result was that with the addition of a few thousand 
troops sent to him by Halleck, Grant was left to capture 

Waiting Over the Border. 451 

Donelson with his original 15,000 men, and with the aid 
of the gun-boats. Halleck finally had a keen sense of the 
importance of the capture of this fort. He telegraphed to 
McGlellan as follows: "United to Grant" (t. e. Buell's 
forces) "we can take and hold Fort Donelson and Clarks- 
ville. . . . Unless we can take Fort Donelson very 
soon, we shall have the whole force of the enemy on 
us. Fort Donelson is the turning point of the war." . . . 

While these generals were talUng about concerted action 
in order to take Donelson, Grant was busy investing and 
assaulting that great stronghold. He would have taken 
the place on the 8th as he had promised, but extremely 
high water, impassable roads and terrible weather rendered 
it impossible. After encountering difficulties not often met 
with at that day, in the midst of one of the worst spells of cold 
and rain and snow ever experienced in that climate. Grant 
had made such a show of determination and bravery, by his 
assaults on the works, that on the morning of the 16th, just 
as his forces were ready for a last assault, he received a 
note from Buckner, proposing an armistice, so as to arrange 
for capitulation. Grant's reply has served very largely to 
give immortality to his name. He said : "No terms except 
unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted. 
I propose to move immediately upon your works . ' ' Buckner 
complained that the terms were "ungenerous and un- 
chivalric." But he nevertheless accepted them. Four thou- 
sand men, under Floyd, Pillow and Forrest, made their 
escape on the night of the 15th. The number who sur- 
rendered, according to the rations issued at Cairo by the 
commissary of prisoners was 14,623. Many escaped who 
are not enumerated above. General Grant estimated the 
Confederate force at 21,000, and his own at 17,000, when 
he first invested the place, but this was increased by re-en- 
forcements during the investment until it finally amounted 
to 27,000 men. 

This was one of the most complete victories of the war. 
Here were first conspicuously manifested the peculiar 

462 East Tennessee <md the CvvU War. 

qualities which made Grant unlike any other general of 
the war on either side. During the fight, on the 15th, 
while he was away in consultation with Rear-Admiral 
Foote, the enemy had come out of their fortifications and 
attacked McGlemand's command on the right, and driven it 
back. General Lew Wallace sent fresh troops to the ex- 
posed point, who got in between those and repulsed the 
enemy, and thus checked the disaster which might have 
proved most serious. Grant did not expect an attack while 
he was gone, for the Confederates were in no condition for 
offensive operations at that time. When he returned, he 
found part of his troops in wild excitement over this re- 
pulse or disaster. He was convinced that the enemy had 
made the attack on his lines with the view of cutting their 
way out and escaping, as they came with their knapsacks 
full of rations. He said to Colonel J. D. Webster of his 
staflf : **Some of our men are pretty badly demoralized, but 
the enemy must be more so. • . • the one who attacks 
first now will be victorious, and the enemy will have to be 
in a hurry if he gets ahead of me.'* He determined to 
make an assault at once on the left of his line. He directed 
Colonel Webster to ride with him along the lines, and to 
call out to the men as they passed : **Fill your cartridge 
boxes, quick, and get into line ; the enemy is trying to es- 
cape, and he must not be permitted to do so.'' This 
inspired his men. General C. F. Smith at once led the as- 
sault on the works of the enemy, and that night he and his 
command bivouacked inside of the Confederate lines. The 
next morning came the request for an armistice. 

Thus General Grant, seizing the critical moment when 
both armies were demoralized, by an act of supreme dar- 
ing, inspired the minds of his own soldiers with con- 
fidence, and at the same time created alarm and fear 
in the minds of the enemy. ^ As he tells elsewhere, he 

* " Grant's Memoirs," Vol. I, pp. 306 and 307. 

Waiting Over the Border. 453 

acted on this same principle, with successful e£fect, at 
a critical moment in the battle of Shiloh. 

Six weeks after this time, the battle of Shiloh was fought 
by this same modest man, and after a disaster the first 
day, another victory was finally won on the second. The 
question of the fall of Nashville was settled by him while 
Buell was still quietly waiting in Louisville. Grant, a 
subordinate, had unostentatiously gone ahead, at the sug- 
gestion of his own fertile brain, and inaugurated move- 
ments of such stupendous importance that they created a 
deep rapid Southward flowing current behind it which 
drew the army of Halleck and the cautious Buell after 
it, almost without an effort on their part. It was simply 
what is often seen on streams — smaller objects floating 
and following in the current made by the movement of 
some greater one. Grant's enterprises drew everything 
Southward, within the wide region affected by their in- 
fluence. At Donelson he had driven a wedge into the 
territory of the Southern Confederacy, which had riven 
it asunder as far south as the Memphis and Charleston 
railroad. Columbus, Bowling Green and Nashville fell 
as naturally as ripe fruit falls from its parent stem. And 
now, after the battle of Shiloh, under the guidance of 
his matchless genius, the Confederate lines again moved 

The great commander of the war — modest, quiet and 
sleepless — ^had at last appeared. Unpretending and un- 
heralded, rising by the force of his own genius and match- 
less qualities, he suddenly appeared amid the smoke and 
noise of battles and men began to inquire : **Who is this 
strange man that wins victories?" 

Perhaps the most favorable opportunity which had ever 
occurred for relieving East Tennessee had now presented 

^ Though it took three appeals from Grant and Foote to get permission 
from Halleck to undertake the expedition up the Tennessee and the Cum- 
berland, Halleck asked lor promotion, not for Grant, but for himself, on 
account of these operations. 

454 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

itself. There was universal consternation throughout the 
South. Mr. Lincoln, ever alive with keenest sympathy 
for the noble people of East Tennessee, telegraphed to 
Kentucky to inquire if a cavalry force might not at that 
time be sent into that region to seize the railroad. It was 
not done, however, and from this time for eighteen 
months following, but little was done toward accomplish- 
ing this patriotic object. 

Why was this? Was it because the conviction was 
gradually forcing itself on the minds of military men 
that the force originally proposed for this work was 
grossly inadequate? 

It is probably true that a small force of men, say eight 
or ten thousand, might have seized Knoxville and the 
railroad immediately after the battle of Fishing Creek, 
and almost certainly after the fall of Donelson. But the 
vital question was : Could such a force have held it after 
it was seized? It seems to have been taken for granted at 
that time that if the road could be reached and seized it 
could be held. 

There was much truth and force in the letter of Gleneral 
Buell to General McClellan, dated February 1, 1862, in 
which he gives some of his reasons for his opinion that 
such an expedition was unwise and impracticable at that 
time. He overestimates, however, the difficulty as to 
supplies. He was correct as to the scarcity of forage 
on the route, but the moment the army had reached 
Jacksborough, or descended at any point from the Cum- 
berland Plateau into the fertile valley of East Tennessee, 
provisions sufficient for the support of such an army for a 
long time could have been found. This region was the 
richest grain field in the Southern Confederacy, excepting 
the valley of Virginia. It not only furnished wheat and 
com for the armies of the South, but also hay, beef and 
bacon, as well as horses and mules. Hence no spot of 
territory in the South, of no greater area, was more vital 
to the support of her armies. It constantly supported out 

Waiting Over the Border. 456 

of its surplus an army of eight or ten thousand men, from 
June, 1861, to September, 1863, and also shipped large 
quantities of provisions and forage to supply other armies. 
From October, 1863, until the next summer, both Long- 
street's and the Federal army, the two probably aggregating 
fifty thousand men, lived nearly entirely on the resources 
of Upper and Middle East Tennessee. It must be kept 
in mind that there were two other armies, namely Bragg's 
and Sherman's, at that time in this region, which in part 
lived off the country. It so happened that, while the 
crop of 1861 was a fair one, the wheat crops of 1862 and 
1863 in this region were unprecedented in quantity. They 
were simply enormous. 

Now, the fact of the great abundance of supplies in East 
Tennessee, rendering it easy for an army of invasion to 
subsist indefinitely, constituted one of the strongest rea- 
sons why a mighty effort should have been made by the 
Confederates to drive such an army back. Provisions and 
supplies were needed by the South as badly as men. It 
could not afford to give up a region of such plenteous 
supplies. If the South could not get the men of this 
region for its armies, it could get its grain and its forage, 
its beef and bacon, and its horses and mules. In this re- 
spect, East Tennessee was as important to the South as 
Middle Tennessee. 

Now, consider the importance of holding the line of 
railroads in East Tennessee. These roads, for there were 
two, but forming only one line, constituted the shortest and 
the main line of transit to Virginia, for Southern armies 
and their supplies, from North Alabama, North Mississippi, 
Arkansas, North Louisiana and Texas, from Missouri and 
Kentucky, and from Nashville and Memphis. If it were 
seized and held by hostile forces, both armies and supplies 
must go by the longer and the circuitous route by way of 
Augusta, and through the Garolinas, in order to reach 
Virginia. So the possession of the roads in East Tennessee 
was of supreme importance to the Confederacy. No sacri- 

456 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

fice made in keeping possession of them was too great for 
the resulting benefits to arise from their control. 

Judging by the light of experience, and looking at the 
question as seen at the time from an East Tennessee point 
of view, I do not hesitate to express the opinion that the 
proposed expedition into East Tennessee, under Thomas 
*'with four good regiments," in November, 1863, was full 
of peril. It might have been successful at first. Zollicoffer 
would most probably have fallen back from Kentucky, and 
his forces, when united with those already in East Ten- 
nessee, would have given him a greater number of men 
than Thomas had. While Thomas was marching from 
Cumberland Gap to Knoxville, a distance of sixty miles, 
over bad roads, and across a succession of high parallel 
ridges, little less difficult to cross than the mountains of 
Kentucky, the Confederates could have drawn from Bow- 
ling Green and from other points in the South, or Virginia, 
ten or fifteen thousand other troops. So, Thomas would 
have encountered at Knoxville an army twice or three 
times as large as his own. The chances are that he would 
have been defeated and driven back before he planted his 
feet on the railroad. If successful at first, forces would 
have been drawn from other quarters, until they were suf- 
ficient to overthrow him. Better would it have been for 
the Confederacy to sacrifice twenty thousand men than 
lose the control of these railroads, and the possession of 
this region of inexhaustible plenty. So the authorities of 
the South evidently thought. The desperate effort made by 
General Bragg, in 1863, to hold his line at Chattanooga, and 
that made by General Longstreet to regain its possession 
at Knoxville, the same year, prove the tenacity with which 
they clung to it. In fact, the great battles of Chickamauga, 
Missionary Hidge and Knoxville were but desperate efforts 
on the part of the Confederates to hold this line of com- 

Mr. Lincoln and General McClellan appreciated the mili- 
tary advantages of seizing and holding this great artery 

Waiting Over the Border. 457 

connecting Virginia and the South, but evidently did not 
comprehend the difficulties to be encountered in their ac- 
complishment. Neither General Sherman nor General 
Buell attached any great importance to this movement, 
as a military enterprise, though they did realize in some 
degree the magnitude of the undertaking. 

General Buell 's idea of sending a column of thirty thou- 
sand men into East Tennessee, twenty thousand for ofifens- 
ive operations and ten thousand to guard the rear and keep 
open communications, probably would have proved a suc- 
cess for a time, provided he had moved on Nashville at the 
same time with a large co-operative force. If such an ex- 
pedition had been an independent one, and if the lines of 
the enemy everywhere else had been left imbroken^ and 
its armies unengaged, this expedition would most probably 
have proved a failure in the end. Two years later, when 
the Confederate lines were everywhere forced back South 
of Tennessee, except in a small territory around Chatta- 
nooga, General Bumside entered East Tennessee, with an 
army of fifteen or twenty thousand men (said at the time 
to be thirty thousand) literally without firing a gun. And 
yet three months later he was shut up and besieged in 
Knoxville by Longstreet, with a greatly superior force, and 
but for the assistance sent by General Grant — the army of 
Sherman — and the failure to completely invest the place, 
the chances are that starvation would have compelled a 
surrender. This shows with what desperate tenacity the 
Confederates clung to East Tennessee. But when General 
Buell moved forward and occupied Nashville, in the spring 
of 1862, and especially after the battle of Shiloh, the 
Confederate lines, except in East Tennessee, being every- 
where forced back beyond the state line, the time had come 
when the relief of East Tennessee was practicable, and an 
expedition for that purpose wise and advisable. 

It is easy to understand why Buell did not make this 
movement. He was opposed to it, as he was finally forced 
to admit to McClellan. But why the latter and Mr. Lin- 

458 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

coin, who were all the time earnestly in its favor, did not 
insist on such an expedition, in the spring or the early 
summer of 1862, is not by any means as easily compre- 
hended. Indeed, it is a source of profound astonishment. 
The fall before, McClellan had insisted on this movement 
as one in co-operation with and in aid of his own great 
movement against Richmond, which he was at length about 
to commence. If fifty thousand men, or even thirty thou- 
sand, had been thrown into Knoxville in May, 1862, how 
many men would it have withheld or withdrawn from the 
enemy in Virginia? How many would it have drawn oflf 
from the army of Bragg? With such a force in possession 
of the railroad at Knoxville, the expedition into Kentucky 
in the fall of 1862, under General E. Kirby Smith, having 
Knoxville as a base, would have been impossible. And if 
that were impossible, it being merely a co-operative move- 
ment, then the expedition of Bragg into the same state at 
the same time would have been impossible also. These 
movements of Bragg and E. Kirby Smith into Kentucky, 
although disastrous in their results to the forces engaged 
in them, threw back the operations of the Union armies in 
Tennessee nearly a year. A strong force sent into East 
Tennessee at the propitious moment, in May, 1862, would 
have changed the whole plans of the campaigns in the 
South, as well as produced momentous results on the final 
operations. This was an error on some one's part of vast 
consequences. This one single movement made at the 
right time ought to have shortened the war in the South 
one year. Men are slow' to believe such things as this. 
They think because the war dragged its slow length along 
for four years, it necessarily had to last so long. This is a 
great mistake. With proper appreciation of the deter- 
mined spirit and the resources of the South, and with the 
necessary preparations to overcome them, the war ought to 
have been closed in the fall of 1863. 

The first two years of the war, on the part of the North, 
except the work of Grant, Sherman, Thomas and Mitchel, 

Waiting Over the Border. 459 

was little more than holiday parades, and heart-sickening 
failures. The people were not in earnest. They were 
speculating — making fortunes. It took defeat after defeat, 
disaster after disaster, approaching and threatening their 
own homes and cities and business, to arouse them, both 
people and rulers, to a realization of the danger of the gov- 
ernment, and to a proper conception of the masterly peo- 
ple they had to subdue. 

The peculiar racial traits in the Southern people seemed 
to be forgotten. They were nearly entirely of Scotch-Irish 
(or Covenanter) , Cavalier, and Huguenot blood. The Cov- 
enanter blood largely predominated. The Southern people 
were the nearest a pure original race of men of any in all 
the states. Immigration never flowed Southward. From 
colonial days downward there had never been much inter- 
mixture of foreign blood with that of the original races. 
So it was kept almost as pure as it was when the immi- 
grants landed in the colonies. Those who supposed that 
the demonstrations in the South in 1861 were mere noise 
and bluster which would soon die out, overlooked an im- 
portant element in the calculation. This persistent, stub- 
bom, determined Covenanter race, which so largely filled 
the South, never gave up anything it had undertaken until 
human effort became futile. 

In the latter part of 1863, and in the early part of 1864, 
there was such an outpouring of men and money for the 
prosecution of the war to a successful termination as should 
have ended it in two years, if the same means had been 
provided and used in 1861 by the government. To avoid 
being ruinous, great wars should be short and sharp. The 
German government in the Franco-Prussian war set the 
world an example that will not be forgotten. (General 
Moltke hurled with such momentum his vast masses against 
the French armies that each day there was an advance, and 
each day a victory. In a few weeks the war was over. 
There will never again he as long a war as ours between 
civilized nations. The recently-invented means for the 

460 East Tennessee and the Civil War, 

destruction of human life, as well as property, are sa 
amazing, and indeed so appalling, that either one side or 
the other must soon sue for peace .^ 

In the summer of 1862 General Buell had an opportunity 
to occupy East Tennessee such as had never occurred be- 
fore. When he left Nashville in the spring to join Grant, 
just before the battle of Shiloh, General Mitchel was left 
in charge of Middle Tennessee. In a short time, by a 
rapid march, he suddenly appeared with four thousand men 
in HuntsviUe, Alabama, and seized the Memphis and 
Charleston Railroad from Decatur to Bridgeport, holding 
it nearly three months. After Halleck, with one hundred 
and twenty thousand men, allowed Beauregard with forty 
thousand to hold him in check for some time before Cor- 
inth, and finally to slip away, Buell marched with his army 
to Huntsville, where Mitchel was stationed, arriving June 
29th. On his arrival a conference took place between him 
and Mitchel in reference to the movements of the army. 
Mitchel urged Buell to move upon and seize East Tennes- 
see immediately. His plan was to occupy Chattanooga 
with a column of ten thousand men, with the view of seiz- 
ing the railroad at Dalton or Cleveland ; another similar 
column to march on Kome, Georgia, and another one to 
march across the mountains and seize the railroad about 
twenty miles west of Knoxville, while the army of General 
Morgan, then at Cumberland Gap, should seize the rail- 
road, presumably at Knoxville. These movements, if ex- 
ecuted with promptness and energy, could not have failed, 
for the force then in East Tennessee, under General E. 
Kirby Smith, did not amount to one-fourth of that pro- 
posed for their execution. None could have been drawn 
from Virginia, for at that time the fighting was going on 
around Hichmond. 

After parts of three days had been spent by General 
Mitchel in earnestly urging on his superior the great mili- 

' This was written before the late Spanish-American war. 

Waiting Over the Border. 461 

tary importance of at once occupying East Tennessee, 
General Buell still hesitated, still had not made up his 
mind. Thereupon Mitchel, disgusted with this indecision, 
sent his resignation to Washington, saying he could no 
longer serve under his present commander.^ He was 
thereupon ordered to report to Washington. After some 
delay he was appointed to the command of a department 
at Port Royal, where in a few months he died from an at- 
tack of yellow fever. Thus the country lost one of its most 
promising officers almost in the beginning of his splendid 
career. He, like (General Grant and General Lyon, be- 
lieved that armies were organized to move and to fight. 

The evil results flowing from this inaction of General 
Buell, and the delay of Halleck at Corinth after the battle 
of Shiloh, are thus commented upon by Greneral Grant in 
his * ^Memoirs,'' in his usual mild language : 

"After the capture of Corinth a movable force of eighty 
thousand men could have been set in motion, for the ac- 
complishment of any great campaign for the suppression 
of the rebellion. In addition to this, fresh troops were 
being raised to swell the effective force. . . . Buell 
with the Army of the Ohio was sent East, following the 
line of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad. . . . If 
he had been sent directly to Chattanooga as rapidly as he 
could march, leaving two or three divisions along the line 
of railroad from Nashville forward, he could have arrived 
with but little fighting, and would have saved much loss 
of life, which was afterwards incurred on gaining Chatta- 
nooga. Bragg would then not have had time to raise an 
army to contest the possession of Middle and East Tennes- 
see and Kentucky ; the battles of Stone River and Chicka- 
mauga would not necessarily have been fought. These are 
the negative advantages — ^if the term negative is appli- 
cable—which would probably have resulted from prompt 
movements, after Corinth fell into possession of the na- 

1 ''Life of OrmsbyM. Mitchel," by F. A. Mitchel, p. 839. 

462 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

tional forces. The positive results might have been: a 
bloodless advance to Atlanta, to Vicksburg, or to any 
other desired point South of Corinth, in the interior of 
Mississippi. ' '* 

In conclusion, I remark that it has been far from mjr 
purpose to reflect on or to question the great military 
ability of General George H. Thomas, in what I have said 
in reference to the contemplated expedition into East Ten- 
nessee in 1861. He was certainly one of the greatest gen- 
erals produced by the Civil War. If that expedition was 
not feasible at that time, then Mr. Lincoln and Generals 
McClellan, Sherman, Buell, Mitchel, Anderson and Carter 
were all in error on that point, as well as (General Thomas. 
For it will be remembered that General Sherman at one 
time approved it, and ordered General Thomas to proceed 
with its execution. Then he adopted the policy of **con- 
centration," as he styled it, and not that of ''divergence,'* 
and recalled Thomas. The objection urged by General 
Sherman was to its expediency and wisdom as a military 
movement, and not to its feasibility. He thought it better 
to move on Nashville with his whole force, and not ta 
divide it by undertaking two expeditions. And these were 
the final views of General Buell also. At first he approved 
the movement and only changed his mind at a late hour. 
It was not until some months had elapsed and he found 
himself hard pressed by Mr. Lincoln and General McClel-^ 
Ian, for failing to second their wishes in this regard, that 
he began openly to question the expediency and the feasi- 
bility of this movement. Besides all this (General McClel- 
lan had promised General Thomas that he would keep the- 
enemy, both in Virginia and in Kentucky and Tennessee, 
so busy that it could not interfere with his movement on 
East Tennessee. And this also must be considered : Gen* 
eral Thomas was to bring arms for the Union men, and ha 
expected, as there assuredly would have been, a general 

» "Grant's Memoirs," p. 347. 

Waiting Over the Border. 463 

rising of Union men on his approach. After all, this 
might have saved him from a disaster and a retreat 1 Who 
knows? Besides this, he relied on the destruction of the 
bridges on the line of railway to aid him. This might 
have given him immunity for a time at least. 

So it is clear that there is nothing in the conduct of 
General Thomas, in reference to this matter, that can re- 
flect upon or detract from his great military sagacity and 
reputation . 

464 East Tennessee and the CivU War. 



The exiles in Kentucky— Bitter disappointment— Camberland Grap occu- 
pied by Union aimy — ^East Tenneesee Union soldiers there — Historic 
point— Time hangs heavily — General £. Kirby Smith starts to Ken- 
tucky with army — General Bragg does the same thing — ^Buell fol- 
lows—Safety of Morgan threatened— Abandons the Gap — Long retreats 
through E^istem Kentucky — Suffering of amly — Armies safely at 
Portsmouth— Battle of Perryyille— Retreat of Bragg and Smith— East 
Tennessee soldiers sent to Rosecrans — Are in battle of Stone Riyer — 
With Thomas at Chickamauga— Exiles in Kentucky— Impatience to 
return home — General Bumside to lead an army to East Tennessee — 
Preparations— Knoxville evacuated by the Confederates— Bumside in 
motion— Joy of Union people along the line of his march — Advance 
unknown in KnoxvUle — Almost despair of people — Suddenly Colonel 
Foster's brigade of cavalry dashes into the town— The gathering and 
joy of Union people— General Bumside's army enters— Tumultuous 
rejoidn^l^The old flag hoisted — Bumsides speaks to the people — De- 
scription of scenes by Colonel Foster— Further wanderings of the 
exiles— 400 at Vicksburg, April 24, 1865— On board the "Sultana," with 
other troops for Cairo to be exchanged— Vessel blows up— 1,400 men 
perish— 332 out of the 400 East Tennesseans lost— Gloom and sorrow 
at home — Annual re-union of the survivors. 

In October, 1861, there was not an exile in Kentucky 
who did not expect to be back in East Tennessee in a few 
days or a few weeks. Mr. Maynard, who was at that 
time with the soldiers, confidently declared that he ex- 
pected to eat his Christmas dinner in his own home in 
Knoxville. But these fond hopes were doomed to bitter 
disappointment. The expedition to East Tennessee on 
which their hopes rested was suddenly abandoned, and all 
they could do was to wait. When the advance movement 
was countermanded, and the exiles, now in the Union 
army, were ordered to turn toward Ohio, their hearts were 
crushed within them. They shed bitter tears of anguish. 
This was not childish weakness. It was the sad condition 

The Return. 465 

of their families at home that filled their minds with 
trouble. How the long, weary months passed with them 
can not be described. It would reveal many a sad, heavy 
heart, as the months slowly passed, and there was no for- 
ward movement. 

In Jime, 1862, Cumberland Gap was evacuated by the 
Confederates, and successfully occupied by the Federal 
troops, under the command of Greneral Greorge W. Mor- 
gan. Nearly all, perhaps all, of the Tennessee troops 
were there with him. There they remained until Septem- 
ber. This point was on the line of their native state. A 
part of the **Gap" was in Tennessee. But there was a 
**dead line" between these exiles and their homes which 
none of them dared to pass. To be caught beyond it was 
to incur the hazard of arrest as spies, followed by a trial 
and conviction and probably by a speedy execution, or by 
imprisonment in the South. 

Sometimes scouting or skirmishing parties, in force, 
were sent across this line, and then these sad, brave fellows 
had the pleasure of once more treading their native soil. 

Cumberland Gap is, on many accounts, an interesting 
historical point. It is a deep cut or gap in the Cumber- 
land Mountain, with high peaks rising on either side. In 
this gap the line of the three states of Virginia, Tennessee 
and Kentucky unite at a common spot. In 1748, Dr. 
Thomas Walker and others, from Virginia, on an explor- 
ing expedition, discovered and passed through this remark- 
able depression. Walker was the first white man whose 
feet pressed the soil of Kentucky. He called the moun- 
tain ''Cumberland" and the gap "Cumberland Gap." Be- 
yond this gap a few miles, he came to a beautiful river, 
which he called the "Cumberland" also, all in honor of 
the Duke of Cumberland, then prime minister of En- 
gland.* As early as 1761, possibly in 1760, Daniel Boone 

^ Ramsey, p. 65. Ramsey says that these names and that of London are 
the only names of English origin in Tennessee. 


466 East Tennessee and the Civil War, 

passed through this gap on his way to Kentucky. On one 
of his trips, vast herds of buffalo were found grazing in 
the valley, at the foot of the mountain, now known as 
Powell's Valley. In all his trips from North Carolina to 
Kentucky, Boone invariably passed through this gap. 
The pioneers and hunters of Virginia, on their way to 
Kentucky, as well as those of North Carolina, beyond the 
mountains, all followed the well-beaten trail through Cum- 
berland Gap. 

Time hung heavily on these East Tennesseans at Cum- 
berland Gap, as they waited there during the long summer 
months of 1862. Often they climbed to the highest peak 
of the Cumberland, called the **Pinacle," overlooking 
their encampment, and from its lofty crest gazed with 
heavy hearts upon the valley of East Tennessee, stretch- 
ing away a half hundred miles eastwardly, and more 
than one hundred and fifty miles westwardly, lying be- 
fore them so serenely in quiet beauty. Sixty or seventy 
miles southwardly the lofty mountains of North Carolina 
rose up in solemn grandeur. And between these lay the 
beautiful undulating valley of East Tennessee. To the 
longing eyes of these gazers never was there such an 
enchanting scene. Summer had arrayed everything in 
loveliest colors. To add to this beauty, fields of golden 
wheat dotted the valleys and the hill sides. A sea of 
deepest green lay before them, stretching away further 
and further until lost in the blue haze, or until it faded 
into the shadowy outlines of the distant mountains. .As 
these men gazed on this picture of loveliness, and cast 
their eager eyes in the direction of their homes, in imagi-» 
nation they could almost hear the lowing of their own 
herds, or the barking of their own watch dogs. They try 
to trace to their own homes the blue line of curling smoke 
that away off in the distance rises out of a valley, and 
slowly and gracefully ascends higher and higher, until it 
is caught and carried away by a passing breeze. 

At long intervals some of the faithful guides, whc 

Ths Return. 467 

piloted men through the mountains, would come into 
camp with a few letters from home. Often these con- 
tained sorrowful news. One poor soldier's wife had died 
in his absence; others had been sick for many months; 
this one had lost his favorite little daughter, and that one 
the little boy named after him. More than one com- 
plained that guerrillas had taken and carried off their 
last horse. **But," added the faithful wives, * 'Providence 
will take care of us and the children in some way until 
you come home. Be of good courage. We can get along 
somehow until you return. Never come back unless with 
honor in the army and under the flag." Noble words 
from noble mothers. 

And now commenced the wanderings of these exiles. In 
September, 1861, Greneral E. Kirby Smith, then in com- 
mand of the Confederate Department of East Tennessee, 
started with a large force, probably fifteen thousand men, 
to Kentucky. Passing through Big Creek Gap, about 
forty miles west of Cumberland Gap, he moved in such 
a manner as to threaten the safety of General Morgan 
and his command. Smith's cavalry had already cut off 
Morgan's supply trains. For five days the soldiers lived 
on beans. At length, to avoid being captured, Morgan 
destroyed everything he could not carry away and hastily 
evacuated the *'Gap." Smith was marching in the di- 
rection of Lexyigton and Central Kentucky. Therefore 
Morgan had to avoid that route. So he did the only 
thing he could do ; he struck out into the mountains of 
Eastern Kentucky, through a country where there were 
no good roads, and in the dry season of September but 
little water and even less food. The country was wild, 
barren and rough. For two weeks Morgan's army strug- 
gled on through these mountains, sometimes suffering 
from thirst, living mostly on fresh corn. At length after 
perhaps the hardest march made by any army during the 
war, of over two hundred miles, harassed at every step by 

468 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

John Morgan's cavalry, the command, worn out and ex- 
hausted, reached Portsmouth, on the Ohio River, 

Greneral George W. Morgan was an able and a worthy 
officer. He conducted this retreat with great judgment 
and skill, and yet, somehow, unjust as it was, it left a 
little cloud on his military record from which he was 
never entirely relieved. He was unfortunate in not meet- 
ing more favorable circumstances. Success is the standard 
in war by which generals are measured. 

At the same time that Morgan was retreating toward the 
Ohio, General Bragg with a large army was pushing 
toward Central Kentucky, drawing the army of General 
Buell after him, along parallel lines. Thus there were 
four armies moving northward at the same time, along 
roads leading substantially in the same direction. At 
length Bragg and Smith united their forces, and Buell 
having overtaken them, the not very great nor decisive 
battle of Perryville was fought, with victory on the side 
of the Union army. Then Smith and Bragg hastily 
retreated from Kentucky, the former to his old position 
in Knoxville, and the latter to Murfreesborough, Ten- 

Most of the East Tennesseans in the command of Morgan 
were conveyed by boats from Portsmouth to Louisville, 
thence to Bowling Green. 

In the meantime General W. S. Rosecrans superseded 
Buell, and took charge of the army of the Cumberland. 
The East Tennesseans, consisting of Spear's brigade, who 
had been attached to this army, moved with it to Nash- 
ville, thence to Murfreesborough. Then on the Slst of 
December, 1862, and on January 1, 1863, followed the 
battle of Murfreesborough, or Stone River, with a victory 
again on the side of the Federal army. Then followed a 
long pause, so long that everybody from the President 
down to the common people wondered and began to com- 
plain. At length, in June— a delay of five months — 
Rosecrans' army moved forward, following Bragg in the 

The Return. 469 

direction of Chattanooga. Finally the two armies met on 
the battlefield of Chickamauga, and struggled for su- 
premacy on the 19th and 20th of September. Rosecrans 
was defeated, and with Crittenden and McCook was driven 
back in disorder into Chattanooga. Thomas stood his 
ground, and by his firmness and coolness prevented a 
disastrous rout, and won for himself the sobriquet of the 
**Rock of Chickamauga." It is a source of no little pride 
to add that the brigade of East Tennesseans, who had 
started on their long wanderings at Cumberland Gap, 
under Morgan a year before, was in Thomas' command that 
day, and shared in the glory of that desperate battle. 

Rosecrans was soon relieved, and Thomas placed in com- 
mand, at Chattanooga. Bragg moved forward after his 
victory, and occupied Missionary Ridge and Lookout Moun- 
tain. Soon after this, Grant was sent to take command, 
and Sherman and McPherson, with their splendid veterans 
of Vicksburg, were ordered to that point. Hooker, with 
Howard and Slocum, from the Army of the Potomac, was 
sent to Chattanooga also. On assuming command at 
Louisville, Grant telegraphed to Thomas **to hold Chat- 
tanooga at all hazards." The reply was, ** We will hold 
the town till we starve." The truth was they were nearly 
starving at that very time. Grant says that the soldiers a 
little later on were in the habit of saying that they were 
living on **half rations of hard bread and beef dried on the 

We now leave these two great armies confronting each 
other on the soil of East Tennessee, and return to Ken- 
tucky, where we left a part of the exiles more than 
a year ago. The attempted enforcement of the Confeder- 
ate act of conscription, together with the persecutions in 
1862 and the first half of 1863, had driven thousands more 
of the Union men of East Tennessee from their homes. 
These sought safety in the Federal army in Kentucky. 

» "Memoira," Vol. II, p. 25. 

470 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

Many new regiments had been organized and put into the 
field. All were burning for an opportunity to return to 
the relief of their oppressed families and countrymen. 

No human pen can describe the sufferings or the mental 
anguish of these exiles fleeing from their homes and their 
families. They went away stealthily at night, as if they were 
fleeing criminals. Danger beset them at every step. A moun- 
tain wilderness, full of armed enemies waiting to seize them, 
lay between them and safety. They knew not that they 
should ever return. They must travel at night. Safety 
lay only over the steepest mountains and through the dark- 
est ways. Every human habitation must be avoided. Fires 
must not be kindled even in the coldest weather, lest they 
should betray their presence to the enemy. And when 
they at length reach the army to join it, new anxiety fills 
their minds. What will become of their families at home? 
What will their enemies do to them when it is learned that 
their husbands have fled to the Federal army? And how 
will their families support themselves? 

As time rolled on impatience to return home became a 
torment. As they waited over the border their hearts 
grew sick at the long delay. Winter came and passed. 
Summer came, then winter again came and passed, and 
still no advance. And while they were away in the army, 
what were the anxieties, the fears, the sufferings of the 
brave mothers and wives at home? Will the loved ones 
ever come back ? Will the way ever be open to them to 
return? Seek not to penetrate the agony and sorrow of 
those noble women during these months and years of sep- 
aration and uncertainty. Suffice it to say, that if ever 
the endurance and the fortitude of women were more he- 
roic, more patriotic, more exalted, or more sublime than 
those of these women of East Tennessee, from 1861 to 
1863, I know not where to find the record of it. No 
Spartan mothers nor Roman matrons ever surpassed them. 

All through the summer of 1863, and especially toward 
the autumn, when something decisive seemed to be im- 

The Return. 471 

pending at and around Chattanooga, the hearts of the 
Union men were naturally turned toward Kentucky, as 
the quarter from which their deliverance was to come. A 
well-settled conviction everywhere prevailed that the Fed- 
erals were certainly coming, but no one knew when. Gen- 
eral Ambrose E. Burnside, a brave and experienced officer, 
who had won unfading laurels on the coast of North Caro- 
lina, had been sent to take command of the expedition. 
This fact was known to but few persons in East Ten- 
nessee, for all news tending to encourage hope in the minds 
of Union men was carefully suppressed. They had been 
most sadly disappointed with the delusive expectation of 
speedy relief more than once before. The year before a 
Federal army was confidently expected, by the Union men 
as well as by the Confederate authorities. Indeed, so cer- 
tain did this seem, that preparations for abandoning Knox- 
ville went forward for several days. But the Federals did 
not come and the panic passed off. 

The first knowledge of the fact that a Federal army was 
about to enter East Tennessee came from the Confederate 
military authorities. This time the fact seemed to be too 
certain for doubt. A little after the middle of August, 
they commenced shipping Southward, in great haste, all 
their supplies of every description. Everything that could 
be transported to another place was moved. All was 
haste and confusion. The town was cleared of most of 
the army supplies four or five days before the Federals en- 
tered it. The army, too, had departed. Nearly all the 
citizens who sympathized with the South, who could get 
away, had most unwisely gone, too. The alarm was uni- 
versal. Why they were in such haste has always seemed 
remarkable. There could not have been at the time of 
the final evacuation a Federal soldier within the state ad- 
vancing toward Knoxville, and perhaps there was not for 
days afterward. 

On this occasion, for the first time in my life, I realized 
the importance of government— of an ever-present power 

472 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

capable of giving protection. There was, for nearly a 
week, absolutely no one in Knoxville with authority to give 
a command, or to enforce obedience to law. There was no 
protection for any one . To add to the uneasiness and inse- 
curity, a straggling band of **Scott's Louisiana Tigers*' 
remained behind, apparently, and as it was believed at the 
time, for the purpose of committing depredations. These 
were the only soldiers in Knoxville during these days of 
anxiety. No one went out on the streets unless forced to do 
so. The days were as the stillness of the sacred Sabbath. 
A vague and yet terrible sense of insecurity and imcer- 
tainty filled the minds of all. They knew not at what 
moment the men in their midst might set fire to the town, 
or enter their houses for pillage. So, the week wore away 
slowly and heavily to the anxious Union men. Not a man 
among them had heard a word from the advancing army. 

In the meantime, important events were being matured 
and pushed forward in Kentucky. Greneral Burnside was 
ready to put his army in motion for East Tennessee. Prep- 
arations went forward rapidly. A part of the wanderers, 
with happy, exultant hearts, were at last about to turn 
their faces and steps homeward. In the latter part of Au- 
gust, the joyous march was commenced. The route lay 
through the mountains of Kentucky and Tennessee. 

As the army advanced into and through East Tennessee, 
the excitement and enthusiasm among the citizens became 
wild and tumultuous. There was scarcely a family in all 
the mountain region to be traversed that had not given 
every able-bodied man to the army. Women and children 
and old men alone remained at home. All these, as the 
advance became known, flocked to the roadside to see the 
army, bringing with them for distribution such food as 
they had on hand. Shouting and rejoicing, the waving of 
bonnets and handkerchiefs, weeping and sobbing, and en- 
thusiastic praise to God for the great deliverance, every- 
where greeted the army. Never did marching soldiers 
find such a reception. Mothers and wives came to meet 

The Return. 473 

their long-absent loved ones. But short must be the happy 
communion. The army must move forward. Every man 
would be needed soon. Many sad hearts turned away 
in tears ; for their sons were absent in other armies. 

From the bottom of my heart, I am thankful that the 
loyal women of East Tennessee were what they were — 
brave, true and sublime in their unfaltering devotion to 
the government ; that, when the Federal army came, in 
the fullness of their unbounded joy, and out of the very 
depths of their hearts, there issued from their lips, in sin- 
cerest reverence and thankfulness for their great deliver- 
ance, the thrilling shout: ** Glory to GrodI glory to God I 
the army has come." No wonder these touching scenes 
melted a whole army into tears. 

Surely, had they not cause for thankfulness and rejoic- 
ing? Had they not suffered as women seldom suffered 
before ? Had they not yielded to their country their last 
stay and support? Had not many of them toiled in the 
fields to save the children from starving while the men 
were away in the army? Had they not suffered hunger, 
and cold, and want, and anguish for two whole years for 
the sake of the Union? And, when the day of deliverance 
came, should any human power restrain nature's outburst 
of exultation and thankfulness ? 

Before any one was aware of the proximity of the Fed- 
eral force, on a beautiful, bright day, September 1, 1863, a 
splendid brigade of cavalry, the advance of Bumside's 
army, led by the gallant Colonel John "W. Poster, of In- 
diana, with the old banner afloat, suddenly dashed into 

About 3 o'clock in the afternoon, anxious, restless, and 
sick at heart at the uncertain delay on the part of the Fed- 
eral army, I had walked down to the depot of the East 
Tennessee and Virginia Railroad to see the superintendent, 
Mr. J. B. Hoxsie, to ascertain if he knew anything of the 
advance of the Union army. Like myself, he had not 
heard one word in reference to it. While sitting there, 

474 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

talking to Mr. Hoxsie, and to Mr. John R. Branner, the 
president, I heard the clatter of horses' feet rapidly advanc- 
ing toward us. Instinctively realizing the situation, I 
sprang to my feet, and nished out into the street. Just as 
I reached the center of it, the head of a column of cavalry 
was passing within five feet of me. I believed that they 
were Federals, but was not certain. In this conviction, I 
cried out : **Who are you? who are you?" Major John M. 
Sawyers, of Union coimty, whom I had known, but had 
not recognized in the rapid dash, shouted to me : ^'We are 
Federals." So speaking, without a moment's pause, he 
and his troops galloped rapidly up the street. 

The entrance of the Federal army was to a Union man 
a moment of supreme happiness, for it was the moment of 
deliverance. For more than two years, the loyal people 
had been mentally enslaved. 

If, therefore, in the first moments of relief, there was a 
joyous upward bound of feeling, like the flight of an eagle 
let loose from its cage, no one will be surprised. 

When the horsemen passed, I immediately sprang for- 
ward, following on after them in the direction of the center 
of the town. I broke into a run, in a vain effort to keep 
up with them. As rapidly as I could go, I followed the 
horsemen along Gay street, to the Lamar House, where the 
cavalry had concentrated, and where I was met by a mes- 
senger, who informed me that Colonel Foster wished to 
see mte in the parlor of the hotel. Going thither, I met 
the commander of the forces which had just entered the 
town. James C. Luttrell, the mayor of the town, was 
present, and possibly one or two others. 

Two days later, on the 3d of September, General Bum- 
side with his staff, rode into town at the head of a splendid 
army, amid the rejoicing and cheering of the people who 
lined the streets. Colonel Foster had held possession of 
the place two days before Bumside's arrival, and was, in 
fact, but perhaps not in a military sense, the captor of 

The Reivm. 475 

Knoxville.^ It was reported at the time that Bumside had 
entered East Tennessee with an army of 30,000 men, but 
in fact, it probably did not exceed 15,000. 

The news, first of Foster's, then of Bumside's entrance 
into Knoxville, spread over the country with marvelous 
celerity. Each man seemed to act as a special courier to 
carry the news to his neighbor, and he to the next. It is 
said that signal lights blazed from the high hill-tops. Thus 
the joyous news spread from man to man, and soon it was 
known to every man, woman and child within a circuit of 
fifty miles. And now was witnessed a remarkable change 
and transformation. Suddenly, like the followers of 
Roderic Dhu at *'a blast upon his bugle horn," there 
sprang from the recent silence and loneliness of the hills 
and the forests, thousands of men, who at last, felt free to 
come forth from their long hiding places. The first im- 
pulse of aU was to hurry to Elnoxville, to see the Federal 
army. With one accord, men, women and children 
hastened thither. Many of them, in their joyous zeal, 
traveled all night. On the first day after Colonel Foster 
entered, the people commenced pouring in. On the next 
day, the crowd had swollen to thousands, and on the third 
day, the day after Bumside entered, it had grown to tens 
of thousands. The streets were literally packed with 
human beings. On this day and the following one, there 

^ Colonel John W. Foster has had aince that time a moat distingoiahed 
career, and has proved himself to he a noteworthy man. After the close 
of the war, he filled with marked sacceas the positiona of minister to Mexico, 
Bnssia and Spain. On the death of Mr. Blaine, President Harrison made 
him secretary of atate, which position he filled with high honor to the na- 
tion. When the Behring Sea Fishery controversy was referred to arhitra- 
tion for settlement, Mr. Foster represented the government in preparing 
the case for triaL And in 1S95, China selected him to aid in negotiating a 
treaty of peace between that power and Japan. Thia is perhaps the highest 
compliment that was ever paid by China or any other government to a 
foreigner. Theae things conclusively prove his excellent ability. All these 
honors came from genuine merit, for he is aa modest and unpretending aa 
he ia worthy. Soon after hia capture of Knoxville, he went North and I 
met him no more for twenty-nine years. 

476 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

was witnessed on the streets of the thronged city — scenes 
which could have occurred nowhere else in all this land — 
scene never to be forgotten, and such as these aged eyes shall 
never see again — ^the meeting of mothers, fathers, wives 
and sisters with the long absent, but now returned exiles. 
The bliss of that day will never fade from the memory 
of thousands of persons present. Not much more raptur- 
ous was the meeting of kindred, so long separated, than 
was the joy of the people at once more beholding the old 
flag of their country floating over Knoxville. Strong men 
and brave women wept at its sight like children. In the 
wild exuberance of their rejoicing, they fell into one 
another's arms, and laughed and wept aloud, as if bereft 
of reason. All day long as the exiles met mothers, fathers, 
wives, children or sisters, scenes such as these— -scenes of 
wildest rapture— could be witnessed nearly every moment 
on the streets. It was the frenzy of overpowering delight. 
Now and then, as a wife met her husband, or a mother her 
boy, a wild scream was heard. From morning till night, 
the people gave themselves up to the most unrestrained 
demonstrations of rejoicing. The long gloom, doubt, al- 
most despair, which had filled their minds were all gone. 
The exiles had returned, with the old banner waving over 
them. They had come, as these noble wives and mothers 
had written to them they should come, **with honor, in the 
army, and under the old flag.'* 

Nearly every city and village north of Tennessee had its 
rejoicings, and its meetings of returning soldiers with 
their kindred and friends. But there were none like this. 
There were no exiles in the North. There the boys in blue 
went away amid cheers and smiles, huzzas and demonstra- 
tions, encouraged by music and waving banners. They 
went on the high swelling current of popular sympathy 
and popular enthusiasm. The way to their return was at 
all times open. Lietters and messages passed as freely as 
in times of peace. How different with these Union 
soldiers of East Tennessee I 

The Return. 477 

But on this great day of joy, there were here and there 
mournful hearts and tearful eyes that joined not in the 
general rejoicing. A sad, natural curiosity had drawn 
them hither with their friends. But they knew that their 
loved son, or brother, or husband had not come, and 
never would come home again. He slept in another state, 
perhaps on some battlefield where he had fallen in honor, 
or in some hospital cemetery, his grave unmarked by 
stone or tablet. No flowers bedecked his resting-place. 

Greneral Bumside was hailed, not as a conqueror, but 
as a deliverer by the people. In no part of the South, 
outside of East Tennessee, was such a demonstration of 
loyalty and unbounded joy possible. All day long the 
people poured in a constant stream in the direction of his 
headquarters, in order that they might have the chance of 
shaking hands with him, or at least catching a sight of 
him. It would have seemed a strange sight in some gen- 
erals to see them shaking hands by the hour with plain 
old men and women from the country, as Greneral Bum- 
side that day did ; but he was a kindly man, and knew 
that these parties were Spartan fathers and mothers, whose 
sons then constituted a part of the very flower of his army, 
and that they had suffered as it seldom falls to the lot of 
men to suffer. 

So universal was the desire to see Greneral Burnside that 
some time on the second day, it was arranged that he 
should appear on the balcony of the Mansion House and 
address a few words to the people. Accordingly, sur- 
rounded by his staff and army officers and a few citizens, 
he appeared on the balcony above referred to. He was 
greeted with loud cheering. He then addressed a few re- 
marks to the sea of people who filled the streets. He 
thanked them for the patriotic reception they had given 
him and his army. He referred to the wonderful loyalty 
and fidelity of the people of East Tennessee to the govern- 
ment, and told them that President Lincoln had sent him 
and his army to deliver them. He assured them that he 

478 East Tennessee and the Civil War. 

expected to remain in East Tennessee, and that secession 
would be suppressed. Greneral Bumside was an awkward, 
stammering speaker, but he was an honest, noble man. 
He had a heart, and therefore spoke to the heart. He 
won the xmdying love of our people. 

To show that my descriptions of the wild and unbounded 
joy of the Union people of East Tennessee are not over- 
colored, I give an extract from a letter written home by 
Colonel John W. Foster on the day after his arrival : 


**Knoxvillb, Tbnn., September 2, 1861. 
. . About four o'clock yesterday morning, I re- 
ceived orders to push on into Knoxville and occupy the 
town. We were in motion within an hour, and all along 
the road, as heretofore in our march through East Ten- 
nessee, we were received with warmest expressions and 
demonstrations of joy. . . . A few miles before we 
reached the town, we ascertained that the rebels had all 
left, the last of them that morning. The Eighth Tennes- 
see Cavalry, which was in the advance, surrounded the 
town, and about four o'clock yesterday afternoon, I rode 
into the town with the staff and escort, and such an 
ovation as we received was never before during this war 
given to any army. The demonstration beggars all de- 
scription. Men, women and children rushed to the streets, 
no camp-meeting shouting ever exceeding the rejoicing of 
the women. . . . The men huzzaed and yelled like 
mad-men, and in their profusion of greeting, I was almost 
pulled from my horse. Flags long concealed were brought 
from their hiding-places. As soon as I could get to a 
hotel, I was waited upon by the mayor (a true Union 
man) and a large number of loyal men, prominent citi- 
zens, and they received me with heartiest congratulations 
and welcome. All afternoon and into the night, the 
streets resounded with yells and cheers for the 'Union' and 

''It is stated that last night, after the occupation of the 

The Return. 479 

town, the intelligence was communicated to the people 
throughout the country by firing of guns from place to 
place, and by signal fires on the mountains. And this 
morning the streets were crowded with people from the 
country, far and near, and such rejoicing I never saw be- 
fore. How they shouted, and stood with uncovered heads 
beneath the stars and stripes. The mayor* of the city 
brought forth an immense flag which he had kept, wait- 
ing anxiously for the day when he could unfurl it. This 
was suspended early this morning over Main (or Gay) 
street, and at the sight of it the people, as they came in 
from the country, yelled with a perfect frenzy of delight* 
Early in the day a procession of ladies was formed, and, 
bearing two American flags, they marched down Main 
street and under the large flag, in order that they might 
fulfill a vow they had made early in the war, that they 
would in a body march under the first American flag raised 
in Knoxville." . . . 

*' September 3d. 

"We had this morning a fresh outbreak of patriotism. 
The news of the Federal occupation of the town by last 
night spread into the adjoining counties, and the people 
flocked in from every direction. A large delegation of 
men and women of all ages formed in a long procession 
(from Sevier county), and, carrying the American flag, 
paraded through the town and out to camp, and the town 
again ran wild with patriotic joy. Men who had been in 
hiding among the rocks and caves of the mountains, and 
who had not seen each other foi^ years, or since the rebel- 
lion broke out, stood grasping each other's hands beneath 
the folds of the old flag, while tears str